Filed under: Domestic Policy, Foreign Policy, Humor, Immigration, Law, Mexico, Politics, Regulation, The United States | Tags: President Barack Obama, Rutgers University, U.S. Secret Service
As long as we’re looking for the lighter side of the current Political Campaign, President Obama just gave the commencement speech at Rutgers University. It must be exciting for new graduates to have the President of the United States speak at their ceremony.
After a couple of obligatory congratulations to the graduates and the name dropping of their favorite watering holes and greasy spoons, the President used his speech to tear into Donald Trump’s trade agenda, his Muslim ban, and his planned great big wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. He didn’t mention Mr. Trump by name, but it was rather obvious.
‘The world is more interconnected than ever before. And it’s becoming more connected every day. Building walls won’t change that,’ Obama said.
‘To help ourselves, we’ve got to help others, not pull up the drawbridge and try to keep the world out,’ Obama said.
‘It’s part of human nature, especially in times of change and uncertainty to want to look back at a long forgotten imaginary past when everything worked and the economy worked,’ Obama said.
And America did pretty much whatever it wanted around the world. Guess what, it ain’t so? The good old days weren’t all that good.’
As Mr. Obama was deploring Mr. Trump’s wall, the Secret Service is proposing to replace the White House Fence to double its height, from the current about six feet to nearly 14 feet and provide other measures to deter would-be intruders. “They want to build a fence that is tougher, taller, and stronger.” A great big fence. The old proverb is “good fences make good neighbors,”used by Robert Frost, but not exactly what either the Secret Service nor President Obama has in mind. But then, perhaps I’m just easily amused.
I vaguely remember who gave the graduation speech at my college commencement, but cannot remember his name or what he said. What I do remember most clearly of that day, was getting bombed by a seagull who deposited an indiscretion on my cap and gown. Maybe the Rutgers grads won’t remember a thing either.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Capitalism, Economics, Economy, Europe, European Union, Politics, Regulation, United Kingdom | Tags: BREXIT, The European Union, Unaccountable Levithan
BREXIT stands for the British exit from the European Union, and the British people will vote on whether to leave or stay on June 23. It’s a very, very big deal. This is an hour long movie, so you’ll want to watch it in the evening. It’s very well done, with many of my favorite Brits explaining why the European Union does not work — Daniel Hannan, James Delingpole, Matt Ridley, Janet Daley, and Melanie Phillips.
The movie explains how the European Common Market seemed like such a good idea after World War II, how it morphed into the European Union, and what happened when the regulators took over.
It’s a remarkably Leftist Union, sure from its beginnings that control and regulation would fix all the wars and arguments and end poverty and hunger and, well you’re familiar with all the unfilled promises of the Left. When President Obama stopped by in Britain in April, he wrote an op-ed in The Telegraph to tell the British what they needed to do to get full U.S. support—which included staying in the EU, and unsurprisingly ignited a firestorm. Bad manners, but Obama would like the control and regulation and unaccountable government, as he has so clearly demonstrated. Angelina Jolie was just there to tell the Brits not to even think of leaving.
The movie explains how it all came to be and the immense, smothering, unaccountable bureaucracy that it has become. It is a dire warning to us about the rights and possibilities we might well lose if we continue to allow the Left to govern our country. Do set aside time to watch history being made across the pond.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Economy, Environment, Freedom, Junk Science, Law, Progressivism, Regulation, The United States | Tags: Andy and Katie Johnson, Environmental Protection Agency, The Pacific Legal Foundation
Andy and Katie Johnson own a small 8-acre ranch near Bridger, Wyoming, on which they run 10 head of cattle and 4 horses. A creek runs through the property. Mr. Johnson wanted to build a stock pond to water his animals. He got approval from the local government and from the State of Wyoming, and they invested most of their savings in building the stock pond. Birds, fish and other wildlife came.
So did the EPA, who went after the family for violating the Clean Water Act. EPA Director Gina McCarthy used the Johnson family to test the power of the EPA in advance of the passage of their harsh new rules. The rule wasn’t even passed when Ms. McCarthy took out her pen and her phone.
EPA regulators showed up at the Johnson property in 2014, and announced that the Johnsons were facing a “very serious matter.” The EPA claimed the Johnsons violated the Clean Water Act by building a dam on a creek without a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA claims the pond discharges into other waterways. Mr. Johnson was ordered to restore the property to its pre-pond state, according to EPA rules for restoration, and pay a fine of $37,500 a day until it was completely restored, and face criminal charges as well.
The EPA’s new rule is a power grab, clean and simple. When Congress created the Clean Water Act, they neglected to define “water.” Big mistake. The Supreme Court defined “the waters of the United States” as “navigable waters” which the EPA promptly redefined as anything that flowed into the navigable waters, and believed they were justified in tracing the “navigable waters” right back to your downspout. Imagine! I’ve used a picture of a trickle in a roadside ditch to point out what they are after. Ms McCarthy wants to be a Commissar of the EPA’s own Empire.
The Johnsons refused to cave in, and enlisted the help of Wyoming Senators Barasso and Enzi, and Louisiana Sen. David Vitter, and the Libertarian Pacific Legal Foundation. The Clean Water Act specifically excludes stock ponds. No matter.The fines had reached $16 million when Mr. Johnson’s counter lawsuit against the EPA reached the courts.
More than two years later, Johnson won. In a settlement reached with the EPA, he gets to keep his pond, he won’t need to get a federal permit, the EPA fines have been removed, and all Johnson agreed to do was plant some willow trees and limit access to a portion of his pond for a while.
Pacific Legal Foundation attorney Jonathan Wood called the settlement “a win for the Johnson family, and a win for the environment.”
The federal government stormed onto private property, threatened a family with massive fines (could $37,500 a day be any more absurd?) and walked away only after being countersued. While the Johnsons were being harassed, the EPA was finalizing their new rule to cover anything from prairie puddles to power plants.
A lawsuit filed by several states came to a halt when a federal judge in North Dakota blocked the EPA from enforcing the rule, which the judge said was “arbitrary and capricious.” The judge ruled that the injunction be applied to all 50 states, but the EPA decided that they would go ahead and enforce the rule in the states that hadn’t sued, until an appeals court stepped in and blocked that runaround.
The EPA has been slapped down by the courts repeatedly for overreaching , but they are zealots — intent on power. “The environment” has become a magical word to which every business is careful to genuflect. That’s power. Packages and papers come with a notation to ‘please recycle’. Laws protecting the people from polluted air or polluted water are in place.
The EPA is reduced to scanning archives for old studies, not necessarily valid, that will give them a legal leg to stand on. Words are parsed for other possible meanings. Your freedom and property rights depend on a lawyer asking the right questions to get you off whatever hook the EPA decides to impale you with. The agency has long outlived its usefulness and needs to be disbanded permanently.
This is how you suddenly wake up one morning to find yourself resident in a tyranny — with no rights at all. Democrats are quite up front about their contempt for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The Constitution provides only Impeachment as a remedy for “high crimes and misdemeanors” — not for overreaching with executive orders and pardon powers and the regulations handed down by agencies established by the executive. We’d all better pay real attention. Government is not a spectator sport.
Filed under: Bureaucracy, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Education, Freedom, Heartwarming, Literature, Politics, Progressivism, The United States | Tags: American Education, Richard Mitchell, The Work of a Mind
“Schooling is done in public places, but the roots of an education grow only in the hidden ground of the mind. Lessons are taught in social institutions but they can be learned only by private people. The acts that are at once the means and the end of education: knowing, thinking, understanding, judging, are all committed in solitude. It is only in a mind that the work can be done. There is no such thing as “collective thinking.” Our schools can be an instrument for socialization or an incentive to thoughtfulness, but they cannot be both.”
…”At the root of our widespread and institutionalized illiteracy is a fevered commitment to socialization and an equally unhealthy hostility to the solitary, and thus probably anti-social work of the mind. In school, the inane and uninformed regurgitations of the ninth-grade rap session on solar energy as a viable alternative to nuclear power are positive, creative, self-esteem-enhancing student behavioral outcomes; the child who sits alone at the turning of the staircase, reading, is a weirdo. The students did not bring that “appreciation” to school: they learned it there.”
………………………………………………………. Richard Mitchell
……………………………………………………….The Graves of Academe
Filed under: Politics | Tags: Blessings of Liberty, Brave New World, Fixing Human Nature
Why is free speech so hard to understand? Why is freedom so hard to understand? It has a lot to do with understanding human nature. Conservatives are big on freedom, but even they don’t always understand what it means. They see human nature as flawed, but do not expect perfection. We are greedy and rude, peaceful and warlike, lazy, hardworking, vain, stupid, brilliant and foolish. We make lots of mistakes, yet try to clean them up after we’ve made a mess. We admire things that turn out well, but don’t expect everything to do so. In general we recognize human nature as unchangeable, but believe that if left free to create and think and study, with a little encouragement things will mostly turn out alright. America has been an earth-changing laboratory of the benefits of freedom.
The Left — Democrats, Progressives, Liberals believe that human nature is a mess, but can be fixed. And that’s what they aim to do. With the right people in charge to make the right laws, mankind can be adjusted, and there will be no more inequality, nor discrimination, nor anything that offends. Everyone will at last be equal, and there will be no more hate and no more wars. Everyone will get along as soon as the Left has reached complete power and control, and put all the right edicts into force. It will all be wonderful, just you wait and see.
The problems of the world are caused by greed and jealousy, and that’s why it’s important to help the poor, succor the needy, and give everyone just enough stuff to keep them dependent on the government largess you have granted them. So the programs of the left are largely about manipulating the people. The Left does not accept human nature as fixed or immutable. That’s why they are so anxious to be put in charge — so they can go about the hard work of fixing everything. To fix things they really have to be in control, so they are constantly reaching out for more power. Leaving the people free —just isn’t in their vocabulary. There’s no telling what the people might do if not controlled.
Progressives regard their drive to make everyone equal as so morally superior that it should not be questioned. They do not understand why those who disagree with their position should not be silenced. Their ideas are right, their rules are needed, and their goals are indeed morally superior. If this seems to translate as smug, well, there you are. I give you Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Hillary Clinton, Charles Schumer, and the list goes on.
Who would ever have conceived that the President of the United States and his new Attorney General should order that all Ladies Rooms now be opened to “all” genders, so that those men who “identify” as women should not be discriminated against? And if the nation’s schools do not immediately open the girls’ locker rooms and showers to those men who “identify” as women, then the federal government will take them to court and take away their federal funds. Matters of freedom and control are not just fanciful notions.
Filed under: Australia, Bureaucracy, Crime, Freedom, Law, Politics, The United States | Tags: "Hate Speech", Mark Steyn, The Marketplace of Ideas
Mark Steyn was in Australia this week, trying to explain free speech to the Aussies. It’s an interesting panel discussion because it clearly explains the problem that always arises in any discussion of free speech. Everybody is absolutely for free speech, except no one should be allowed to make cruel, unpleasant, wrong, nasty, morally objectionable remarks or other things that might offend.
Shouldn’t there be standards? And there’s the rub. People are still expected to have manners, be thoughtful, not advocate those things which society says are beyond the pale, and you can object, condemn them for what they said, smack them down or refuse to associate with them, but you cannot make a law against speech that you don’t like. Government has no role in abridging the right of free speech. None.
You can walk away, turn your back, or argue vociferously. If you punch them in the nose, you may get in trouble with the law for battery. But you may not silence them by force of law. Why? The minute you try to protect against one kind of offensive speech, there is no end to the speech your opponents will find unacceptable. It’s a very hard argument for even the Aussies and many Americans to grasp in full.
Filed under: Democrat Corruption, Foreign Policy, History, Iran, Media Bias, Middle East, National Security, Politics, Progressives, Terrorism, The United States | Tags: Ben Rhodes, The Iran Deal, Thr Foreign Policy Guru
On May 5th, The New York Times Magazine published a lengthy interview with Ben Rhodes, President Obama’s deputy national security adviser. Mr. Rhodes “travels with the president, sees him all day long, and not only writes his speeches and communications strategies but also shapes the content of policy.”
The piece was titled “The Aspiring Novelist Who Became Obama’s Foreign-Policy Guru: How Ben Rhodes rewrote the rules of diplomacy for the digital age” by David Samuels. It was a revealing interview. Mr. Rhodes says he has a sort of mind-meld with the president. Much has been made of the fact that Rhodes was working on an M.F.A. in creative writing, and now he channels the president’s consciousness into an optimistic narrative that shapes the president’s foreign policy.
Rhodes strategized and ran the successful Iran-deal messaging campaign, helped negotiate the opening of American relations with Cuba after a hiatus of more than 50 years and has been a co-writer of all of Obama’s major foreign-policy speeches. “Every day he does 12 jobs, and he does them better than the other people who have those jobs,” Terry Szuplat, the longest-tenured member of the National Security Council speechwriting corps, told me. On the largest and smallest questions alike, the voice in which America speaks to the world is that of Ben Rhodes.
Rhodes is a storyteller who” uses a writer’s tools to advance an agenda that is packaged as politics but is often quite personal.”
His lack of conventional real-world experience of the kind that normally precedes responsibility for the fate of nations — like military or diplomatic service, or even a master’s degree in international relations, rather than creative writing — is still startling.
The revelations of how the campaign to sell the Iran Deal to the public was developed, and though planned from the first days of Obama’s presidency, the “story” of the Iran deal began in 2013 when a “moderate” faction inside the Iranian regime led by Hassan Rouhani beat regime “hard-liners” in an election and then began to pursue a policy of “openness,” which included a newfound willingness to negotiate the dismantling of its illicit nuclear-weapons program.”
The president announced the nuclear deal on July 14, 2015: “Today, after two years of negotiations, the United States, together with our international partners, has achieved something that decades of animosity has not.” Actually the meaningful part of negotiations with Iran took place in mid-2012, many months before Rouhani and the moderate group where chosen in an election among candidates handpicked by the supreme leader, the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. There was never any new reality in Iran nor any moderate faction. With this one bold move, the administration would begin the process of a large- scale disengagement from the Middle East, which had always been Obama’s goal.
With the smug innocence of the morally superior, Mr. Rhodes revealed far too many truths about manipulating the media, his contempt for the press, and how he manages the flow of information. Since the actions of the Obama administration are obviously correct, selling the deal to Congress, and framing the deal as a choice between peace and war was Rhodes strategy.
Guided by his moral superiority, Rhodes neglected to consider that the American people aren’t much on being deliberately lied to, and the media isn’t enthusiastic about being manipulated, and especially about that being publicly revealed.
Articles about Ben Rhodes, about the NYT Magazine piece, and about the lies in presenting the Iran Deal have been forthcoming in a steady flow from all over the world. Congress has invited Mr. Rhodes to come testify about his part in the episode and it is suggested that if he does not turn up voluntarily, he will be subpoenaed.