American Elephants


The EPA Is Cleaning Up Superfund Sites, The Most Toxic Sites in the Country. by The Elephant's Child

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has cleaned up in part, or completely, seven of the most toxic Superfund sites in the U.S. in 2017. Of the seven sites designated for cleanup, three have been completely cleansed, while four others still require some work. This is a vast improvement over the prior year when the EPA completely cleaned one Superfund site.

“We have made it a priority to get these sites cleaned up faster and in the right way,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said. “By creating a streamlined task force and making major remedy decisions that hold potentially responsible parties accountable for cleanup, the Superfund program is carrying out the agency’s mission of protecting human health and the environment more every day.”

These gains by the EPA are part of a list of 21 contaminated sites that need “immediate and intense attention” our of more than 1,300 Superfund sites nationwide. The Left has been heavily criticizing Pruitt for rolling back some of Obama’s environmental regulations and reducing the reach of the agency. Pruitt said he is taking more of an environmental  stewardship-focused, rather than a preventative, view of the relationship between the environment and industry. He wants to hear local voices. He said We can be about jobs and growth and still be good stewards of our environment. The last several years have been more adversarial, and there wasn’t much cleanup going on. Surely you remember the bright yellow river.

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The “Dreamers” Are Not What They Pretend To Be by The Elephant's Child

The “Dreamers” are much in the news. Now some 100 business leaders signed a letter in support of the DACA Dreamers insisting that Congress pass a law to protect them by January 18 or they will be causing U.S. companies a lot of disruption and expense. The letter was signed by a bevy of tech leaders like IBM CEO Ginni Rometty – who has been championing their cause, Apple CEO Tim Cook, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

The letter claims that many are employed by businesses, but doesn’t go quite so far to claim that any are specifically employed by them.

Under DACA, nearly 800,000 illegal aliens were given temporary protected status and work permits to remain in the United States. A former USCIS manager of the agency’s investigative unit, Matt O’Brien suggested that the fraud rate for DACA us roughly 40 to 50 percent. Applicants lied on their applications and were rarely caught by USCIS officials. The Obama administration, Breitbart Texas reported, added 122,221 DACA recipients in just the last 3 months of the Obama administration.* Since DACA’s beginnings, more than 2,100 DACA recipients protected status was revoked for a felony or being involved in gang activity.

Over roughly 4o percent of the illegals shielded from deportation by an Obama-era temporary amnesty program have no education beyond high school, and have no plans to go to college. Another 21 percent have dropped out of high school.  73 percent of DACA recipients live in low-income households, and are more likely to compete for job with the working class. 54 percent  of native-born Hispanics access one or more of the welfare programs, and have poverty rates about twice as high as the general population. Heritage’s Daily Signal notes that according to the Congressional Budget Office, giving amnesty to the “Dreamers” would create a deficit of about $26 billion over 10 years.

There seems to be no evidence that most are in college or in the military. The terminology with which they are described—”Dreamers”, little innocent children brought here against their will, came from Democrat wordsmiths, and does not seem to match reality at all. Since they were illegals, there is no record of their age when they arrived, and we have only their claims. They were supposed to be under the age of 16 at the time they arrived, but many are clearly older than that.

I am very much pro-immigrant, but pro-legal immigrants. There are something over a million people who have gone through all the rigamarole necessary to apply for permission to immigrate to America, and they are patiently waiting their turn, which may take years. The DACA program was dreamed up by Democrats who believe that new immigrants are likely to be Democrat voters. I think that further, they are intended to be additional bodies for the next Census, because the Census does not count citizens, only bodies. And the numbers of bodies in a given state determine the Electoral College votes of a given state.

This bunch of businessmen, I suspect, have no personal knowledge of the DACA claimants, but are only impressed by the “compassionate” language that has been devised to describe them. I may be wrong on all counts, but I am very suspicious of Obama’s efforts to change the Electoral College or end it, and his efforts to change America into something more “diverse” and where everybody is equal, and stops getting rich when they have “enough money.”

The everybody is equal thing seems all too often to turn into Venezuela and Cuba.

* I realized I left off an important part of the sentence  and added “of the Obama administration.” My bad. I apologize for any false impression.



Only in The People’s Republic of Seattle by The Elephant's Child

The City of Seattle claims to wish to protect you from the ravages of sugar on your body and well being. They will protect you by discouraging you from purchasing sweetened beverages with a new tax of 1.75 cents per ounce on all sweetened beverages sold in the city. (They do not care about your body fat, your rotting teeth or your potential diabetes. They want the money for their own nefarious purposes) It took effect Monday, on the first  day of the  year.

The prices at an area Costco showed that the tax increases the price of Gatorade by 65 percent and Dr. Pepper by 75 percent. To explain the cost increase, the discount chain posted an explanation of the steep price increase.

(h/t: Jon Gabriel) @ricochet



Addressing the Administrative State: Drain the Swamp by The Elephant's Child

After a year of impressive accomplishment, in spite of “the resistance”, Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal is offering ” A Big Beautiful Trump 2018 Issue: Civil Service Reform.” Send your message of approval to the White House! The Journal has a pay barrier, but Instapundit has the essentials.

Let 2018 be the year of civil-service reform—a root-and-branch overhaul of the government itself. Call it Operation Drain the Swamp.

When Candidate Trump first referred to “the swamp,” he was talking about the bog of Beltway lobbyists and “establishment” politicians. But President Trump’s first year in office has revealed that the real swamp is the unchecked power of those who actually run Washington: the two million members of the federal bureaucracy. That civil-servant corps was turbocharged by the Obama administration’s rule-making binge, and it now has more power—and more media enablers—than ever. We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

It’s Lois Lerner, the IRS official who used her powers to silence conservative nonprofits. It’s the “anonymous” officials who leak national-security secrets daily. It’s the General Services Administration officials who turned over Trump transition emails to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the absence of a warrant. It’s the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s Leandra English, who tried to stage an agency coup. It’s the EPA’s “Scientific Integrity Official” who has taken it upon herself to investigate whether Scott Pruitt is fit to serve in the office to which he was duly appointed. It’s the thousands of staffers across the federal government who continue to pump out reports on global warming and banking regulations that undermine administration policy.

More broadly, it is a federal workforce whose pay and benefits are completely out of whack with the private sector. A 2011 American Enterprise Institute study found federal employees receive wages 14% higher than what similar workers in the private sector earn. Factor in benefits and the compensation premium leaps to 61%. Nice, huh?

Here’s a website that offers information on federal pay and benefits. It does not seem to be an official government website, but offers information for those who wish to become government employees. Do follow the link to Instapundit and read and save the invaluable Ms. Strassel’s invaluable piece.

We live in an administrative state, run by a left-leaning, self-interested governing class that is actively hostile to any president with a deregulatory or reform agenda.

You might consider reading Philip Hamburger’s recent book “Is Administrative Law Unlawful? Philip Hamburger is a leading scholar on the Constitution and a Professor of Law at Columbia University.



Common Sense is Not Anywhere as Common as Assumed by The Elephant's Child

Mitch Daniels, President of Purdue University, had an excellent article in the Washington Post last Wednesday about GMO foods. The campaign against GMO foods he says, is the kind of foolishness that only rich societies can afford to indulge.

Of the several claims of “anti-science” that clutter our national debates these days, none can be more flagrantly clear than the campaign against modern agricultural technology, most specifically the use of molecular techniques to create genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Here, there are no credibly conflicting studies, no arguments about the validity of computer models, no disruption of an ecosystem nor any adverse human health or even digestive problems, after 5 billion acres have been cultivated cumulatively and trillions of meals consumed.

And yet a concerted, deep-pockets campaign, as relentless as it is baseless, has persuaded a high percentage of Americans and Europeans to avoid GMO products, and to pay premium prices for “non-GMO” or “organic” foods that may in some cases be less safe and less nutritious. Thank goodness the toothpaste makers of the past weren’t cowed so easily; the tubes would have said “No fluoride inside!” and we’d all have many more cavities.

The article is an excellent plea for a little common sense. Mitch Daniels points out that suggesting that the poor in developing countries should fear GMO foods is not just wrong, but immoral. The story of the Green Revolution and the work of Norman Borlaug who should be one of the great heroes of the world should be taught in school.  Golden Rice is a variety of rice (Oryza sativa)  produced through genetic engineering (there are the ‘scary’ words) to biosynthesize beta-carotene in the edible parts of rice. It is intended to produce a fortified food to be grown and consumed in areas where there is a shortage of dietary vitamin A, a deficiency which is estimated to kill 670,000 children under the age of 5 each year.

This is a broad problem of political and scientific ignorance. Ilya Somin of the Volokh Conspiracy added his views on the problem.He links to Reason science writer Ron Bailey and William Saletan of Slate. The basic problem of ignorance is heightened by the very words “genetically engineered” which sound, to the ignorant, really scary. Ilya Somin notes that a 2012 National Science  Foundation survey found that about 25% of Americans don’t know that the Earth revolves around the sun rather than visa versa. There’s a lot about basic knowledge in Ilya Somin’s article that certainly suggests that we have a major problem with our schools. Do read that whole thing too.

I would suggest though, that much of the problem exists because of our grocery stores. Food producers are concerned with their marketing, and inclined to cater to any possible fears of the consumer. Hence you have “low sodium” products, “sugar-free,” “low-fat,” and “No GMO products” among others on every can or carton in the store. If everyone is telling you that GMO is a bad thing, pretty soon you’ll start to believe it.

Another article by Ilya Somin explains the problem of mandatory government warnings where the state of Florida required producers of skim milk that does not contain added vitamins to label it as “imitation milk” which it of course is not. The European Union has imposed mandatory labeling of GMO foods, even though there are no dangers involved. Read the comments on Mitch Daniels’ fine essay. You might wonder if perhaps Leftism is just a cult.



Chain Migration And Other Complicated Problems by The Elephant's Child

We’ve been hearing a lot about “chain migration” but what is it and what does it mean? Jessica Vaughan from the Center for Immigration Studies explains in this short video.

CIS is a think tank that studies immigration and immigration laws, which are not only complicated, but should be a positive for our country and our citizens. CIS is pro-immigrant, but anti illegal immigrant, which is a reasonable position for us all.

We have welcomed immigrants since the beginnings of our country, but there are problems. The Obama administration planned to encourage refugees and migrants with the aim of placing them where they would do the most good in increasing the population count in the 2020 Census, which counts heads, without any distinction between legal and illegal residents, thereby changing the electoral college count for upcoming elections.

Becomes a little clearer about why our immigration laws should be tidied up.



Explaining the Trump Derangement Syndrome: by The Elephant's Child

All is explained. Or at least a goodly part of all. Economist Mark Perry refers us to an article by Jeffrey A. Tucker last May in FEE. All good things eventually become clear, but the path may be a little tangled. Dr. Perry offers a condensed version:

For the center-left crowd, all their hopes and dreams are bound up with particular political processes, outcomes, and institutions. The state is their favorite tool for all the good they aspire to do in this world. It must be protected, guarded, defended, and celebrated. The illusion that the government is not a taker but a giver and the source of all good things must be maintained. The gloss of the democratic process must be constantly refurbished so that the essential sanctity of the public sector can be constantly cited as the highest calling.

The center-left has at least one hundred years of work and resources invested in the state’s health, well-being, reputation, and exalted moral status. Nothing must be allowed to threaten it or take it down a peg or two. Any failures must be deemed as temporary setbacks. The slightest sign of some success must be trumpeted constantly. The population must be subjected to unrelenting homilies on the essential holiness of the public sector.

They believe so strongly that they can make the world a better place through the managerial state that it has become their religion. It’s their very core! The president is supposed to at least pretend to be the high priest of the statist religion. That’s his job, according to this outlook.

Everything seemed to being going so well under the Obama administration, which was so earnest, so decorous, so civil. He was funny, smart, respectful of process, and sincere in his pronouncements. He ran on hope and change but governed as the person who kept hope for a new freedom and any radical change at bay.

Trump has profoundly disturbed the balance(click here for the rest)

We keep wondering just what spurs the Trump Derangement Syndrome. This is not a bad diagnosis.




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