American Elephants


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.



Why I Despise The Federal Bureaucracy In One Easy Lesson by The Elephant's Child

13-04-nutrition-choices

The federal government is obsessed with teaching children to eat what they believe the children should eat. It seems to be Michelle Obama’s childhood obesity thing. Kids come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes and some get their growth early, and others late. Watch the kids come out of a junior high school at the end of a school day.

Here is an article from the Free Beacon titled “Feds Spend $149,890 on ‘Mindful eating Intervention’ for Third Graders” It is a study based on the techniques of a Zen teacher to try to  “fight childhood obesity” and turn kids into “change agents” to teach their peers and their family how to eat healthy.

The project, entitled, “Foodie U: The Impact of a Pilot Mindful Eating Intervention on Food Behaviors Among Children and Families,” will focus on low-income Hispanic children.

“The elementary school age is a crucial period for developing life-long dietary habits while parents still significantly influence their food intake,” the grant said. “A school-based mindful eating intervention with parent involvement may positively influence children’s food behaviors.”

Mindfulness is a New Age meditation technique that traces its origins from Buddhism. People engaging in mindfulness are encouraged to focus on the present moment “non-judgmentally.” A 60 Minutes segment on mindfulness showed Anderson Cooper using the practice by eating in silence very slowly, focusing on every bite.

The article adds that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has spend $100.2 million on studies testing mindfulness meditation. The study will involve focus groups and include activities about enjoyment of flavor, texture and appearance, hunger and fullness awareness, food and mood, family sit-down meals, and a cultural feast.

They’ll rope in the parents as well to teach them about “mindful eating practices, like beginning the meal with grace, playing the “how full is my stomach” game and telling children creative things like “broccoli is trees for dinosaurs to eat.”(It’s always broccoli, isn’t it?) Cal State University students will serve as “nutrition educators” and “Mindful eating facilitators” for the children involved.

I find this offensive and outrageous. Am I out of line? I don’t think it is the government’s business. “The goal of the USDA project is to make children consume fewer “high palatable, high calorie foods,” while also raising the “awareness and appreciation” of food. No cupcakes, you must like broccoli better. For class birthday celebrations they can have “broccoli parties.”

There’s actually a reason why chefs invented hollandaise sauce.



American History Lives On In Lexington, Massachusetts by The Elephant's Child

Battle_of_Lexington_DetailApril 19, 1775, some 700 British troops arrived in Lexington and came upon 77 militiamen gathered on the town green. A British major yelled “Throw down your arms! Ye villains,ye rebels!” The vastly outnumbered militiamen had been ordered by their commander to disperse when a shot rang out. No one knows which side fired first, but several British volleys were unleashed before order could be restored. When the smoke cleared, eight militiamen lay dead and nine were wounded, while only one Redcoat was injured. The British troops marched on to Concord to search for rebel arms.

The “shot heard round the world” was fired at Concord Bridge, and nearly 2,000 militiamen harassed the British from behind trees, walls and houses as they returned to Boston, 18 miles away.

Students at Lexington High School are presumably conscious of local history, so the dance committee picked “American Pride” as the theme for their upcoming dance.

Students said the administration canceled an “American Pride” dance because it excluded other nationalities, despite the theme getting the most votes from the dance committee.

School officials defended their decision and added they are willing to tweak the theme in order for everyone to be included.

Well, there you go. Is anyone surprised that a public school would feel that “national pride” would be “more inclusive.” Blah, blah, diverse demography of our community. The idea of America is that people from many nations and many different origins can come to America and become Americans. Supposedly, that is why they are here — to become Americans.

The results were predictable, a little publicity and the school caved, the “National Pride” Dance was rescheduled for late April and students can even wear red, white and blue if they so choose.

This needs more than a sigh, and a “there they go again” response. It is ubiquitous in our school systems. “Diversity” and “social justice” and “inclusiveness” are just a few of the words that indicate a mindset that inflicts the establishment that is supposed to be teaching our children reading with understanding, writing with clarity, mastering mathematics, understanding the basic sciences of biology, chemistry and physics, learning about history and government.

We know from international comparisons that our schools are doing a lousy job of that, and graduating kids who cannot master the basics, but they’re well up on the Left’s touchy-feely pap. We are losing our country, and losing the future because we are not alarmed enough. Most of us can’t yank our kids out of school and afford a private school, or quit our jobs and homeschool. Are you ready to attend some school board meetings and raise hell? Did you actually know anything about the school board members you voted for? Do you read your kids’ textbooks and talk to them about their assignments?

You will notice the little militiaman on the school sign. The kids get it, but the staff doesn’t.

“People consider America to be a melting pot, so the fact that it was even considered offensive is what people are a little surprised about,” said student Sneha Rao.

7207360_G-550x309



You Want Social Justice? Who Decides Who Gets What? by The Elephant's Child

big-brother-1984-e1394429742415

Funny how some things in common parlance become so common that we really don’t pay attention to them any more. The protesters in some  cities across the country claimed to be protesting for “justice” for Michael Brown. Justice is a matter of our nation’s laws and the Constitution, as determined  in this case by a Grand Jury investigation, which was conducted at length according to the law. The results of the labors of the jury are justice.

What the protesters were demanding was, instead,”social justice.” Social Justice is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “justice in the form of the distribution of wealth, opportunities and privilege within a society.” There’s the rub. We are not talking, as the Declaration of Independence states, of the equal opportunity to pursue Liberty and Happiness — but of an equal outcome.

The Urban Dictionary defines social justice as:

Promoting tolerance, freedom, and equality for all people regardless of race, sex, orientation, national origin, handicap, etc… except for white, straight, cisgendered males. Fuck those guys, they’re overprivileged no matter what. “In the name of social justice, check your privilege.”

Same source, second definition:

Mob violence, usually associated with a victim group.
1969 Stonewall riots.
1992 LA riots.

Mostly the term is undefined, but it sounds good doesn’t it? The academics who used to have to teach at least 15 hours a semester now have a lot more free time, and the faculty lounge is afloat with theory. The distribution of advantages and disadvantages in society. This supposes that there is some normal state to which everything must be distributed to make things fair and equal.

The word equal, in English, is derived from the word equitable, suggesting fairness, but what is fair doesn’t necessarily mean equal, but what is proportionate to the efforts of each.  In France, on the other hand, the word is Égalité which means the “equals sign.” What is on one side must be equal to that which is on the other side. This is very different from the English idea of “equitable.”

Social justice is often associated with the idea of the “common good.” Which brings up some questions. Who decides what is fair? Who determines what is equal? Who decides what must be distributed from who and to whom? If these questions are turned over to the government, as the idea of “the common good” would suggest — because who else is going to do it — then you’ve got trouble, or more accurately Socialism, Communism, Dictatorship, Tyranny in one form or another. Giving someone or some group the power to decide, and once decided, it must  be enforced, and there you go.

Free Market Capitalism does not promise equal outcomes, only the opportunity to do with your life what you choose to do, or what you can do with the opportunities you find. We have  plenty of  examples of those who have been born into poverty, and the ghetto and who rise through hard work and determination to the very highest levels of society. You can probably come up with a list easily. And we are a society with a lot of empathy and compassion and arrange to help those who are in need of help. Americans are the most generous people on Earth.

That said, I don’t get the envy part. Isn’t life a struggle with yourself to see what you can make of it? Is life suddenly made wonderful if you win the lottery? The stories of those who did suggest that it doesn’t work out so well. What makes life good is not the material things you are given, but what you accomplish with what you’ve got in your own determination and character.



There They Go Again! Democrats Try to Shut You Up! by The Elephant's Child

shutterstock_105467189-630x286

Friday night news dump. As the media went home for the weekend, the Democrats sneaked in a last minute proposal that the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) be allowed to heavily regulate political content on the internet. They have in mind sites like YouTube, blogs, and the Drudge Report. Why? You can go to YouTube and watch campaign commercials, and even worse, find things that President Obama and other politicians said in the past, and demonstrate their constant overweening hypocrisy.  There’s no telling what awful things you will find on blogs, and the Drudge Report is simply an aggregator of news from — the media.

The problem, of course, is the First Amendment to the Constitution, which protects freedom of speech, most especially political speech. We cannot be a free people without free political speech. First thing you know, they will put you in jail for criticizing the president, or shut your business down, or subject you to an IRS audit.

Obama FEC Commissioner Ann M. Ravel announced that the FED was preparing new regulations to give itself control over videos, Internet-based political campaigns and other content on the web. She insisted that “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long overdue.”

Well, not exactly. The First Amendment was made permanent back in December of 1791, and has served us very well indeed, although the totalitarian sector of the Democratic Party keeps trying to get rid of it.

Democrats really don’t like criticism or being disagreed with. They have trouble defending their ideas, because they just say things, and have never, never done their homework. Rather than studying up on a policy and its inevitable consequences, they just want to pass it into law, and think that if there are problems, they’ll just add some regulations or make more laws. Evidence for that statement? I give you ObamaCare.

The vision of the left is not just a vision of the world. For many, it is also a vision of themselves — a very flattering vision of people trying to save the planet, rescue the exploited, create “social justice” and otherwise be on the side of the angels. This is an exalted vision that few are ready to give up, or to risk on a roll of the dice, which is what submitting it to the test of factual evidence amounts to. Maybe that is why there are so many fact-free arguments on the left, whether on gun control, minimum wages, or innumerable other issues — and why they react so visceraly to those who challenge their vision. ………………………………………….Tom Sowell 1/22/2014

FEC Chairman Lee E. Goodman, a Republican, said that if regulation extends that far, then anybody who writes a political blog, runs a politically active news site or even chat room could be regulated. “I have been warning that my Democratic colleagues were moving to regulate media generally and the Internet specifically for almost a year now,” Goodman told FoxNews.com. “And today’s statement from Vice Chair Ravel confirms my warnings.”

FEC Vice Chair Ravel said:

Since its inception, this effort to protect individual bloggers and online commentators has been stretched to cover slickly-produced ads aired solely on the Internet but paid for by the same organizations and the same large contributors as the actual ads aired on TV,” she said. Ravel vowed to “bring together” people from “across the spectrum” next year to look at the issue.

This set off alarm bells, as it should.

“The FEC’s approach to free speech on the Internet should be hands-off,” Goodman said, urging the public to go to the FEC website to comment on the issue.



American Government Grinds Slowly to a Halt. by The Elephant's Child

The essential battle takes place at the decision whether a free people should remain free or whether they need to be controlled and managed — for their own good, of course. At least that’s what the controllers believe. The Left has a deep need to control. You never know what a free person might decide to think, or to do.

If you are alert to this tendency, you begin to see it everywhere. Consider creativity. The government is sure that they can foster new ideas, but we see the result in all the wasteful grants hopeful government agencies make. Creativity is not a collective action. People must be free to make decisions, take action, decide.

The more government grows, the worse it gets. How many different agencies must sign off on one small piece of a project before the next one can even be considered? We started out with law to keep bad people from doing bad things. then we started making laws to tell people how to do things, and laws to tell people what things they must do and when they must do them, and what materials they must use and how many people they must hire and slowly, slowly, government grinds to a halt of its own weight, and it becomes impossible to do anything or get anything done. ‘

We have an outbreak of a deadly disease, and we find that those who were supposed to be in charge don’t know what to do. The hospitals don’t understand the protocols, the press demands that the president appoint an Ebola Czar, but nobody seems to know that there is already an Ebola Czar, and the new man knows nothing about medicine or disease and is not the Ebola Czar, although everyone keeps calling him that, he’s the Ebola Response Coordinator, and a long-time political hack who was chief of staff to both Al Gore and Joe Biden, which is not exactly a recommendation. And that is how government works today.

When you are a true believer with a managed, controlled people, you are sure that whatever problems come up will be solved by another law, or more regulation.  As the economy and the government grind more and more slowly, layer on a large dollop of political correctness so that no one will be offended by incorrect speech, add multiculturalism and race and gender to muck up the mix, and you are getting close to modern society.

When government becomes such a slow-grinding machine, what difference does it make if you reward your supporters and cronies with special projects or special funds. Who’s going to know and who’s going to do anything about it anyway. Then you have a president who, exhausted by Congress’s failure to do what he wants, simply takes matters into his own hands. Because nobody knows how to stop him.



Collectivism: “We’re All In This Together” Doesn’t Work. by The Elephant's Child

Andrew Klavan summed it up pretty well today:

Whatever its pretensions, whatever its claims, statism — progressivism, leftism, socialism — is based on the idea that a small elite intelligentsia can run your life better than you can. They know how to spend your money. They know how to educate your children. They know how to run your health care. They know how to protect you from yourself.

You do not have to talk to a statist very long before he will profess an intense dislike, distrust and even fear of ordinary people. Ordinary people spend money on what they want (TV’s restaurants and cars) rather than what the elite know they ought to want (aluminum foil climate change reversers). Ordinary people teach their children that God created the world rather than a random pattern of mathematic realities that came into being through another random pattern that came…  well, the elite know: it’s random patterns all the way down! Ordinary people will give jobs and business to those who earn them rather than those the elite, in their greater understanding, know are historically deserving because of past oppression. And so on.

Now, of course, with the very elite of the elite running the country, we find that — what do you know? — this statism dodge doesn’t really work all that well. And there are two reasons for this. The first is that the statist premise is wrong. In fact, ordinary people left at liberty to do as they will are actually better at running their lives and businesses and country than the geniuses in Washington. Central planning works great in the imaginations of the elite, but in the real world…  not so much.




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 7,104 other followers

%d bloggers like this: