American Elephants


Obama Does His King Canute Imitation, Or Is It the Emperor with the Mythic Clothes? by The Elephant's Child

President Obama said today in his Weekly Address that “Wednesday is Earth Day, a day to appreciate and protect this precious planet we call home. And there is no greater threat to our planet than climate change.” So never mind Iran’s bid to eliminate Israel and America with nuclear weapons. Never mind Putin’s agreement to supply them with advanced missiles. Never mind Putin’s worrisome efforts to do a little expansion among his neighbors. Pay no attention to China’s interesting efforts to expand their control over the China Sea. Use the federal agencies, the EPA. CEQ and others to fundamentally transform America. Obama said:

2014 was the planet’s warmest year on record.  Fourteen of the 15 hottest years on record have all fallen in the first 15 years of this century.  This winter was cold in parts of our country – as some folks in Congress like to point out – but around the world, it was the warmest ever recorded.

And the fact that the climate is changing has very serious implications for the way we live now.  Stronger storms.  Deeper droughts.  Longer wildfire seasons.  The world’s top climate scientists are warning us that a changing climate already affects the air our kids breathe.  Last week, the Surgeon General and I spoke with public experts about how climate change is already affecting patients across the country.  The Pentagon says that climate change poses immediate risks to our national security.

And on Earth Day, I’m going to visit the Florida Everglades to talk about the way that climate change threatens our economy.  The Everglades is one of the most special places in our country.  But it’s also one of the most fragile.  Rising sea levels are putting a national treasure – and an economic engine for the South Florida tourism industry – at risk.

Would you like to wager that there’s a nice golf course in Florida near wherever he is making his Everglades speech? One would think that someone in the White House would make a small effort to see if the presidential facts had some tiny bit of truth to them. It’s not hard. The facts are widely available.

He recently announced his big effort to claim that human health was being affected by climate change, and global warming gave his daughter Malia asthma, except Michelle had explained that Malia had an allergic attack at the circus because she has a peanut allergy.

Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N’s Framework Convention on Climate Change admitted at a news conference a couple of weeks ago in Brussels, that the goal of environmental activists is not to save the world from an ecological catastrophe, but to destroy capitalism.

There has been no warming for over 18 years. None, nada, zilch. If there are widely differing opinions about something in the news, is there no impulse to see what the other side is talking about? Wouldn’t you hesitate to push a vast new program enlisting the medical profession and giant corporations in a completely phony effort? I guess if you can destroy capitalism and dispense with all the “deniers”, what’s not to like?

I guess you put on your Tyrant hats, attempt to deny, as Hillary did, the value of free speech, and just say whatever you feel like. The rubes out there haven’t got a clue anyway.



Is The Constitution Dead? Did It Die While We Weren’t Paying Attention? by The Elephant's Child

Constitution

This lovely paragraph is in Myron Magnet’s review of Philip Hamburger’s Is Administrative Law Unlawful? in City Journal, the magazine of the Manhattan Institute:

The world-historical accomplishment of the American Revolution, and of the Constitution that came out of it, Hamburger notes, was that they turned upside-down the traditional governmental model of “elite power and popular subservience.” Americans “made themselves masters and made their lawmakers their servants” through a Constitution that they themselves had made. They observed laws that had legitimacy because they themselves had consented to them, through representatives whom they themselves had chosen. And “they made clear that not only their executives but even their legislatures were without absolute power.” Citizens claimed for themselves the liberty to do anything that the laws didn’t expressly forbid, and that freedom richly nourished talent, invention, experimentation, specialization—all the human qualities that are the fuel of progress and modernity.

It struck me that much of what drives the Left is contained in that paragraph. What the Left aims for is elite power and popular subservience. Obama, today, in response to a Republican sweep of the 2014 election, has decided, instead of making an effort to work with Congress in a bipartisan manner, to conduct foreign policy and legislate all on his lonesome. Politicians, by their very nature have a healthy dose of self-esteem, and they choose their rhetoric carefully to place their accomplishments or lack of accomplishments in the best possible light. That’s just natural. But insisting that because you are President of the United States you can do whatever you want to do by executive order, ignoring the tripartite nature of our Constitutional government, is just wrong.

The Constitution lodges all legislative power in Congress, which therefore cannot delegate its lawmaking function. It is, Hamburger says, “forbidden for Congress to pass a law creating an executive branch agency that writes rules legally binding on citizens—for example, to set up an agency charged with making a clean environment and then to let it make rules with the force of law to accomplish that end as it sees fit. The power of the legislative’ as the Founding Fathers’ tutelary political philosopher, John Locke, wrote, is   ‘only to make laws and not to make legislators.’ And if Congress can’t delegate the legislative power that the Constitution gives it, it certainly cannot delegate power that the Constitution doesn’t give it—namely, the power to hand out selective exemption from its laws, which is what agencies do when they grant waivers.”

James Madison, architect of the Constitution saw the separation of powers as an essential bulwark of American liberty. Administrative agencies, however, make rules, carry them out, adjudge and punish infractions of them, and wrap up legislative, executive and judicial powers in one noxious unconstitutional mess. Judicial power cannot be delegated as legislative power, the Constitution puts all of it in the judicial branch. Unlike real judges, administrative judges carry out the policy of their agency, as set and overseen by their department chief or the relevant cabinet secretary who in turn oversees him. This is not a court, and not a law, and not legal. Yet they can and do order  parties to appear before it, and extort millions of dollars in settlements, force companies to allow inspectors to enter their premises without warrants, and impose real criminal penalties. It can even kill a whole industry, as Obama’s EPA is attempting to do to the coal industry and the coal-fired power industry because the President mistakenly believes the carbon dioxide they emit is the cause of global warming.

Elites, particularly Leftist elites, do not like the Constitution which restrains their grasp for power. Many have accused Barack Obama of wanting to be a king. He laughs it off, and tries to pretend that his executive orders and executive notes and memorandums and signing statements are all perfectly constitutional, and adds, of course, that Bush did it.

Constitutional government is by its nature slow, designed to force new laws to be discussed and argued about, which will incline them to be better written and better law. But Congress, at some point got lazy, and felt it would speed things up if they just handed the administrative function in its entirety off to the assorted agencies of the government.

Thanks to Obama, we have a prime example of the failure of that whole endeavor in the Environmental Protection Agency. Good intentions come up against the nature of bureaucracy which is to grow and elaborate their mission and enhance their power. The Clean Water Act has long since accomplished it’s intent, and the EPA is vigilantly attempting to extend its regulating power to the trickles that flow into the ditches that flow into the creeks that flow into the streams that eventually flow into the “navigable waters,” the big rivers, that were originally given into their oversight. That’s pure power grab.

Congress must take back the legislative power assigned to it, agencies must shrink drastically in size, authority, and reach. They are not allowed to make law, administer law, investigate and judge law and assign penalties. Things have gotten so far out of whack that most, if not all, agencies have their own swat teams.

Part of the problem is that judges don’t know or understand the intricacies of the underlying facts of that which the agencies are attempting to regulate. Congress told the EPA that the navigable waters of the United States should be reasonably clean. The courts don’t necessarily understand where the dividing line for “enough” should fall.

Even while adhering to Supreme Court precedents about administrative power, they “remain free—indeed, [the courts] are bound by duty—to expound the unlawfulness of such power.” And at some point, Hamburger expects, the Supreme Court will have to man up and frankly state that what the Constitution says is the supreme law of the land.

And the people are going to have to let their representatives know that we care about the Constitution and our freedom, and are opposed to the administrative state.



Our President Won’t Call Islamic Jihadists Terrorists, But He Wants to Declare War on Climate Change! by The Elephant's Child

Oh marvelous! The White House says that climate change is hazardous to the public’s health, so they are going to hold a ‘Summit‘ with medical professionals later in the spring to give them their marching orders. Mr.Obama will enlist the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to devise solutions to combat the health impact of global warming. It includes a study from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on the public health effects —obviously the campaign will focus on asthma, since the EPA has already used asthma, or more correctly, the specific number of children who will die from asthma if the country does not yield at once to the demands of the EPA for more power.

Doctors don’t know the cause of asthma. That’s why the EPA uses it. And they use it as projected deaths of children in the future, because who can be so callous as to want little children to die? So shut up and let us shut down all the coal-fired power plants that are producing about 40 percent of our electricity and force us to depend on “natural’ solar and wind power. The Asthma justification for EPA regulations was gutted by the latest science from the Journal of Asthma and Clinical Immunology from research from Johns Hopkins Children’s Center. The usual triggers for an asthma as listed by the Mayo Clinic are:

Exposure to various substances that trigger allergies (allergens) and irritants can trigger signs and symptoms of asthma. Asthma triggers are different from person to person and can include:

  • Airborne allergens, such as pollen, animal dander, mold, cockroaches and dust mites
  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold
  • Physical activity (exercise-induced asthma)
  • Cold air
  • Air pollutants and irritants, such as smoke
  • Certain medications, including beta blockers, aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) and naproxen (Aleve)
  • Strong emotions and stress
  • Sulfites and preservatives added to some types of foods and beverages, including shrimp, dried fruit, processed potatoes, beer and wine
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), a condition in which stomach acids back up into your throat
  • Menstrual cycle in some women

The only one that can be attributed to climate is “cold air”, which seems to be a major trigger for many. Since we have had over 18 years of no warming at all, and a spell of increasingly cold winters in some parts of the country, I’m uncertain as to just what the federal government can do to combat cold air.

President Obama attempted to use an asthma attack his daughter Malia had when she was four as his reason for action, but then he used his mother’s lack of health insurance as a reason behind his insistence on ObamaCare, which turned out to be just another prevarication. His mother had perfectly good insurance.

The Center for the Study of Science issued a study on Global Climate Change Impacts in  the United States 2½ years ago, according to Patrick Michaels and Chip Knappenberger.They found that health effects of climate change in the U.S. are negligible and likely to remain so in the future, unless there is precipitous economic and technological decline.

Death certificate data indicate that 46 percent of all deaths from extreme weather events in the United States from 1993-2006 were from excessive cold, 28 percent were from excessive heat, 10 percent were from hurricanes, 7 percent were from floods, and 4 percent were from tornadoes.

Census data indicate that the migration of Americans from the cold northern areas to the warmer southwest saves about 4,600 lives per year and is responsible for three to seven per cent of the gains in life expectancy from 1970-2000.

So what can the federal government do to save us from the cold? Stop shutting down coal-fired power plants and attacking the coal industry. CO² is a fertilizer for plants and is bringing about the greening of the planet. It is not the cause of “global warming.” The rise of the seas is measured in millimeters, not feet, and we have a lot bigger worries to concern us than another foolish attempt to “fight” the natural warming and cooling of the climate of the earth. Perhaps he could instead get serious about the threat from the Islamic State of Iran, because if they do what they say they are going to do, there will be more than ‘an effect’ on climate.



Obama’s Sales Push for His Nonexistent Deal With Iran Reveals His Own Failings by The Elephant's Child

Continuing his tour of friendly sources to boost the alleged “deal” with Iran, in the face of a very skeptical public, President Obama granted an interview to National Public Radio.  In doing so, he managed to provide some major reasons why Congress should reject the Iran deal out of hand. Steve Inskeep said asked “Do you believe that Iran’s government is capable of changing its ways?”

Obama responded:

My goal, when I came into office, was to make sure that Iran did not get a nuclear weapon and thereby trigger a nuclear arms race in the most volatile part of the world. And prior to me coming into office, we had seen Iran’s program go very quickly and have a whole bunch of centrifuges reduce the timeline in which they could break out and obtain a nuclear weapon if they so chose.

And because of the hard diplomatic work that we did internationally, as well as help from Congress, we were able to impose some really significant sanctions, brought them to the table.

What we are worried about is not a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, but Iran’s religious commitment to the destruction of America and Israel. The Islamic doctrine of taqiyya permits Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad regularly lied to his enemies. Taqiyya has become second nature to the Shia—the sect that rules Iran.

Obama says Iran could have a nuclear weapon after 12 years. He volunteered that in years 13, 14 and 15, Iran could have advanced centrifuges that enrich uranium fairly rapidly, and at that time the breakout times would have shrunk down almost down to zero. He argues that would be better than the current breakout time of 2-3 months, and the world would know more about the program. I have read 45 days in several places, but our intelligence has been wrong about breakout times in the case of India, Pakistan and North Korea, We are always “surprised.” American Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, one of the Iran negotiators, presided over the deal with North Korea that was to prevent them from becoming a nuclear state. Beside John Kerry, we are represented by Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz, who is a physicist, presumably because he may understand nuclear energy.

Obama admitted that Iran is not going to change, they will not recognize Israel’s right to exist. They will not stop supporting terrorism. There is no way to resolve the differences over sanctions. He believes that if we sign this nuclear deal, we strengthen the hand of the more moderate forces in Iran. Yet Iran has no intention or desire to join the community of nations. They do want to reestablish the Persian empire, and are working on it.

Obama assumes that inspections will be effective and that the threat of slapping the sanctions back on will make sure they are effective, The UN inspectors currently admit that they really don’t know much about what Iran has. They aren’t allowed to really inspect. Sanctions, once removed, will not be slapped back on. That would require a highly unlikely vote from China and Russia.

The Persian people are already banking on economic growth from the lifting of sanctions. France’s Total Oil Company is counting on increased amounts of oil from Iran. German industry sells them all sorts of equipment, as does Moscow. Their economy has been severely weakened, but in the midst of sanctions they have been financing their war operations, and there has been no lessening of their support for Hezbollah or Assad over the last four or five years. Obama has already relaxed the sanctions and returned most of their money.

What it seems to amount to, is that Obama will do anything to avoid military action. He wants the legacy of preventing Iran from immediate acquisition of a bomb, and he’s only in office for another 20 months so he’s willing to kick the problem down the road for the next president.

In his previous interview with Thomas Friedman, Obama said that his “absolute commitment” that if Israel were “attacked by any state, that we would stand by them” and that “should be sufficient” for Israel to take advantage of this “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and accept his Iran nuclear deal as a good step forward. Again, Obama seems to assume that after a nuclear attack there would be something left of Israel for him to “stand by,” or something of America to do the standing. There is a disconnect here that Obama simply doesn’t seem to understand. His casual assumptions do not acknowledge the Shiia view of Armageddon bringing the return of the Mahdi and the eternal bliss that follows. He does not acknowledge Iran’s determination that their efforts to get a nuclear weapon trump any efforts of UN inspectors to attempt to inspect. He assumes that Iranian promises mean something.

This is not a matter of nuclear deterrence, or “mutually assured destruction” or a “nuclear arms race.” It’s a different time, different goals, and deeply different religions, one of which wants an end to America and an end to Israel.



Saturday Afternoon Tales From the Oval Office. by The Elephant's Child

president_clueless

“No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar.”
…………………………………………………………………….Abraham Lincoln

President Obama invited New  York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman to the Oval Office on Saturday afternoon to lay out how he was trying to balance the risks and opportunities in the framework accord reached with Iran  last week in Switzerland. The “Obama Doctrine” that emerged when he asked Obama if there was a common denominator in recent decisions regarding Burma, Cuba and now Iran. Obama said his view was that “engagement,” combined with meeting core strategic needs, could serve American interests far better than endless sanctions and isolation. He added that America needs to have the self-confidence to take some calculated risks to open important new possibilities. Permitting Iran to keep some of its nuclear infrastructure, forestalls its ability to build a nuclear bomb for at least a decade, if not longer.

“I do worry that some traditional boundaries in how we think about foreign policy have been crossed,” the president said. “I felt the letter that was sent to the supreme leader was inappropriate. I think that you will recall there were some deep disagreements with President Bush about the Iraq war, but the notion that you would have had a whole bunch of Democrats sending letters to leaders in the region or to European leaders … trying to undermine the president’s policies I think is troubling.

“The notion that you would have had a whole bunch of Democrats …trying to undermine the president’s policies I think is troubling.”
Yep. He actually said that.



There Is No Deal. There Is No “Framework” Deal. There Is No Truth! by The Elephant's Child

The New York Times headline claimed “Iran Agrees to Detailed Nuclear Outline. The Washington Post followed up with: “Iran agrees to nuclear restrictions in framework deal with world powers.” All hogwash. The “historic agreement” that President Obama is trying desperately to sell is pure fantasy. There has been no agreement on any of the fundamental issues that have led to international concern about Iran’s highly secret nuclear activities and have led to 13 years of diplomatic thrusts and talks and six mandatory resolutions by the United Nations Security Council.

What we have is a bunch of contradictory statements by the assorted  participants in the latest round of talks in Switzerland and an ignored deadline. Everybody is trying to make positive statements that spin things in a desirable manner without exceeding the boundaries of reality. So there was a 291 word joint statement in English by Iranian Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif and the EU foreign policy leader Federica Mogherini who led the so-called P5+1 group of nations including the US in the negotiations.

Then there was the official Iranian text in 512 Persian words, and the text from US Secretary of State John Kerry who has put out a 1,318 word document which acts as if all is a done deal. The three different documents not only do not agree, they are frankly contradictory. The Mogherini and French texts are vague and not even good spin.

The Persian text carefully avoids any words that might in any way give the impression that anything has been agreed by the Iranian side or that the Islamic republic has offered any concessions whatsoever. The Iranian text is labelled as a press statement only. It opens insisting that it has no “legal aspect” and in intended only as a “guideline for drafting future accords.” Last April they were caught cheating on the amount of oil they were allowed to export under the relaxed sanctions.

The American text pretends to spell out “parameters for a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action” and claims that key points have been “decided” — and what remains to be done is  to work out the “implementation details.” The U.S.version claims that Iran has agreed to certain restraints for example reducing the number of centrifuges from 19,000 to 6,500.

The Iranian text, however, says that Iran “shall be able to …” or “qader khahad boud” in Farsi to do such a thing. The same is true about enrichment in Fordow. The Americans say Iran has agreed to stop enrichment there for 15 years. The Iranian text, however, refers to this as something that Iran “will be able to do,” if it so wished. Sometimes the two texts are diametrically opposed.

The American statement claims that Iran has agreed not to use advanced centrifuges, each of which could do the work of 10 old ones. The Iranian text, however, insists that “on the basis of solutions found, work on advanced centrifuges shall continue on the basis of a 10-year plan.”

The American text claims that Iran has agreed to dismantle the core of the heavy water plutonium plant in Arak. The Iranian text says the opposite. The plant shall remain and be updated and modernized.

The American text talks of “sanctions relief” while Iran claims that the sanctions would be  “immediately terminated.” Which is it? This is not a small matter. Remember that Obama is a fierce competitor and determined to build a legacy, and get his way.

In his Rose Garden statement, Obama said:

Over a year ago, we took the first step towards today’s framework with a deal to stop the progress of Iran’s nuclear program and roll it back in key areas.  And recall that at the time, skeptics argued that Iran would cheat, and that we could not verify their compliance and the interim agreement would fail. Instead, it has succeeded exactly as intended. Iran has met all of its obligations. It eliminated its stockpile of dangerous nuclear material.  Inspections of Iran’s program increased. And we continued negotiations to see if we could achieve a more comprehensive deal.

Today, after many months of tough, principled diplomacy, we have achieved the framework for that deal.  And it is a good deal, a deal that meets our core objectives.  This framework would cut off every pathway that Iran could take to develop a nuclear weapon.  Iran will face strict limitations on its program, and Iran has also agreed to the most robust and intrusive inspections and transparency regime ever negotiated for any nuclear program in history.  So this deal is not based on trust, it’s based on unprecedented verification.

According to the Persians, they have agreed to no such thing. Iran has said clearly that Obama is lying. Iran has cheated on every single restriction ever placed on them. There have been 20 years of nuclear deal-breaking. In 2003, after Iran came clean, inspectors kept finding new and undeclared sites within Iran. In December they were caught shopping for components for its heavy-water reactor which can produce weapons-grade plutonium.

Iran says plainly that they will not shut down a single facility, will not dismantle a single centrifuge, and will not ship it’s stockpile of enriched uranium out of the country. The UN inspections people say they really don’t know just what the Iranians have, and won’t know without being able to do surprise inspections.

But Obama wants you to know that the deal he has not made is a good one. He claimed that the only alternative to his deal was another ground war in the Middle East. Yet anyone who has been paying the slightest attention could come up with several alternatives. Obama is regarded as completely weak. The Arab nations have joined together with Israel to protest the deal he seems so determined on. He says “this is our best bet by far to make sure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” But he also says that ” Iran wants to join the community of nations” just at the moment that they are sponsoring genocide in Syria. He seems to think the Iranian people want to be part of that community, without any understanding that Iran is a dictatorial theocracy, and if the people dared to speak out, which they don’t, they would swiftly be executed.

Willful ignorance, and a frightening fantasy. When they shriek “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” — they actually mean it.



Best Headline Of The Week! by The Elephant's Child

Economist Mark J. Perry, wrote at the American Enterprise Institute:

Why do progressives hate Walmart for low prices and its 3% profit margin but love high-priced Apple and its 24% profit margin?

Evil Walmart makes a lot of money, right? We hear that all the time even though the retail giant’s profit margin was only 3.12% in the most recent quarter. Interestingly, we never seem to hear as much about the much higher profit margin of Apple, the “darling of the progressives.” In the most recent quarter, the computer behemoth with a market capitalization ($725 billion) that exceeds the value of the entire stock markets of Mexico, Thailand and Russia, had a whopping profit margin of 24.2%. No wonder its market cap is so astronomical.

Here’s one way to put Walmart’s 3.12% profit margin in perspective. Over a typical 31-day period like the month of March for example, Walmart generates about $40.5 billion in sales revenue (roughly $1.3 billion per day). To generate that amount of sales, it costs Walmart about $39.3 billion every 31 days to pay for all of its expenses: merchandise to stock its stores, shipping expenses, the cost of labor including fringe benefits, utilities, corporate income taxes, property taxes, payroll taxes, interest expenses, advertising, etc. After incurring all of those costs to provide the merchandise for consumers over a 31-day period, there’s about $1.26 billion left over for profits, which is also 3.12% of the $40.5 billion in sales revenue.

In contrast, Apple’s whopping 24.2% profit margin means that the company can typically cover its costs to operate for 31 days in a little more than three weeks (23.5 days) and it then usually has 7.5 “profit days” every 31 days. That is, for more than an entire week every month, all of the sales revenue collected by Apple during those 7.5 days turns into profits for Apple’s shareholders.

Do read the whole thing. There’s lots more, and a good lesson in both politics and economics. And Progressivism as well.




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