American Elephants


Another Stunning Example of Political Opportunism. by The Elephant's Child

 

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The U.S. State Department has cleared the Keystone XL Pipeline twice, so far, but now they are going to have to pass it again, after an extension of the public comment period which will, coincidentally, last until after the election. Part of the pipeline’s planned path has been changed to suit protesters. It is not a coincidence that the news of the ‘decision’ was released on the convergence of Good Friday and Passover. News that they’d rather cover up is always released late on a Friday. The cover story is that a further delay in the five-year saga of the Keystone couldn’t be avoided because of ‘unresolved legal issues’ over land seizures in Nebraska. Of course.

Let’s see what is involved:

TransCanada has provided a detailed job breakdown for the pipeline. They say it will create 13,000 union construction jobs, 7,000 jobs for Americans in manufacturing. It is estimated that there are up to 250,000 jobs over the life of the pipeline. That boom in employment would have spin-off jobs in the local economies that support each segment of the pipeline.

The Canadians are mightily annoyed. The United States imports eight to nine million barrels of oil every day. A stable, secure supply of oil from Canada makes better sense. Obama has orated about “our dependence on”foreign oil” often enough when it suits what he wants his audience to think.

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America said “Once again, the administration is making a political calculation instead of doing what is right for the country. It’s clear the administration needs to grow a set of antlers, or perhaps take a lesson from Popeye and eat some spinach.”

Pushing the Keystone XL through would send an important message to Vladimir Putin that America is willing to develop our energy. And allowing the export of liquified natural gas would put a thorn in the side of Putin’s ability to blackmail Europe because of their need for natural gas. But we don’t actually want to annoy Mr. Putin, do we?

On the other side you have:

Leftist billionaire Tom Steyer has promised to spend $50 million of his own money and raise another $50 million for the Democrats in this election if they support the cause of global warming. He really “hates” the Keystone XL pipeline. Steyer has made much of his money at Farallon Capital by investing in fossil fuel producers.

Steyer now claims that stopping Keystone will somehow prevent Canada’s oil sands from being developed. That’s hogwash. The oil is now being carried by rail. In 2008, there were less than 10,000 carloads of crude oil moved by rail. Last year it was more than 400,000 carloads. Rail transportation is far less safe than a pipeline, and the network of pipelines across the country is already extensive, and safe.

Steyer will profit from any delay of the Keystone because he is, or was until recently, a major investor in Kinder Morgan which is building a competitor to the Keystone pipeline. He is, today, a bitter opponent of fossil fuels, especially coal. Banning coal-fired power plants will boost the value of his solar projects. He owes his fortune in large part to the fact that he has been one of the world’s largest financiers of coal projects in Australia and Asia.  He has led recent campaigns with climate nut Bill McKibben to encourage university endowments to divest coal equities. John Hinderaker at Powerline has assembled a remarkable list of Steyer interests. The Hypocrisy is breathtaking.

The most notable takeaway is that, for Barack Obama political money for the upcoming election trumps jobs for unemployed American construction workers, unemployed American manufacturing workers, and for the taxpayer money going to import all that “foreign oil. Everything, for Barack Obama, is about politics. All that talk about jobs, jobs, jobs is just talk.



President Obama’s “Pivot” to The Minimum Wage by The Elephant's Child

The United States is sending ground troops to Poland, the Polish defense minister says after meeting with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. But not to worry, this is not a major escalation. Supposedly they are sending a company, about 150 soldiers, for exercises with the Polish military for a short stay, or something like that.

The Ukrainians asked for military aid, we denied them weapons, but sent MREs and military style socks, and reportedly helmets as well. They were trucked into Ukraine as it was thought a military cargo plane might be too provocative.

President Putin, on the other hand has something like 40,000 troops massed on the Ukrainian border, but says they are just there as a precaution since there is so much unrest in the Ukraine. The officers above the rank of Major in the Ukrainian military all came up through the Russian military, and they aren’t going to fight Russians.

The Russian President denies that the militants in the Ukraine have anything to do with Russia, and he is quite helpless to stop them. Although the pro-Russian activists seem to have had military training, their weapons and equipment are all Russian, and their use of tear gas and stun grenades is inconsistent with a spontaneous local militia. Last Thursday Mr. Putin referred to Ukraine as part of “New Russia.” Even when Mr. Putin openly declares his goal, Mr. Obama prefers to ignore it. The Wall Street Journal said:

The larger problem is that Mr. Obama can’t seem to admit that his assumptions about the world are being repudiated by the week. He came to office believing his own campaign rhetoric that the U.S. was unpopular mainly because of President George W. Bush. He would end these misunderstandings through diplomatic engagement, especially with our adversaries, who would respond in kind to our good will and moral example. Nowhere in the world has that happened.

Diplomacy in Geneva has come up with about what one would expect. After seven hours of negotiations they agreed that “all parties including separatists and their Russian backer, would stop violent and provocative acts, and all illegal groups would be disarmed. A joint statement made no presence of what the U.S. has said are 40,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine’s eastern and southern borders. Kerry said that Russia is “absolutely prepared to begin to respond with respect to troops,” provided the agreement is observed.

The U.S. has sent 12 F-16 fighters and 200 support personnel to Poland. NATO’s secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that the alliance would fly more air patrols over the Baltic region and allied ships would deploy to the Baltic.

Polish Defense Minister Tomasz Siemoniak said the United States, having announced a “pivot” to Asia, needs to “re–pivot” to Europe, and European countries that have cut back on defense spending need to reverse the trend.

The idea until recently was that there were no more threats in Europe and no need for a U.S. presence in Europe any more. Events show that what is needed is a re-pivot, and that Europe was safe and secure because America was in Europe.

According to the New York TimesMr. Obama has concluded that he will never have a constructive relationship with Mr. Putin. As a result he will spend his final two and a half years in office trying to minimize the disruption Mr. Putin can cause, and otherwise turn to other foreign policy area where progress remains possible.

The White House is preparing to nominate John Fl Tefft, a career diplomat who previously served as ambassador to Ukraine , Georgia and Lithuania.  Administration officials were leery of sending Mr. Tefft because of concern that his experience in former Soviet republics that have flouted Moscow’s influence would irritate Russia.

Obama is less concerned with irritating Russia now, and is reportedly pivoting to the George F. Kennan strategy of containment.

The more hawkish faction in the State and Defense Departments has grown increasingly frustrated, privately worrying that Mr. Obama has come across as weak and unintentionally sent the message that he has written off Crimea after Russia’s annexation. They have pressed for faster and more expansive sanctions, only to wait while memos sit in the White House without action. Mr. Obama has not even imposed sanctions on a list of Russian human rights violators waiting for approval since last winter.

Mr. Obama says that Ukraine is not a major concern for Americans. He has concentrated his public schedule around “important” issues like job training and the minimum wage. Since Mr. Putin is not interested in a partnership, Mr. Obama is not interested in the Ukraine or Russia. But then, he’s not much interested in foreign policy at all—though it’s the major part of his job description.

David P. Goldman, writing as “Spengler” says Americans are playing Monopoly, Russians are playing chess. Ukraine is a basket case with a per capita income a tenth of that of the European Community. They are deeply in debt to the Russians and dependent on Russian energy. Putin will let the West take charge of the Ukrainian disaster until it festers, and then pick and choose what he wants. And what he wants is a “new Russia.”



When Democrat Policies Fail, They Switch to Race-Baiting. by The Elephant's Child

It’s not just the EEOC. Obama’s new credit watchdog agency The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), is criminalizing debt collections by arguing they have a “disparate impact” on black Americans.

CFPB chief Robert Cordray says he’s coming up with new rules to crack down on creditors and third-party debt collectors who “hound” black borrowers more frequently than white ones.  “We will not tolerate companies harassing consumers in the debt collection market,” Cordray warned. He promised black church leaders that he would seek “economic justice” for blacks who have fallen into debt and come under the thumb of bill collectors and other “financial predators..”

The agency solicited more than 30,000 complaints that allegedly prove that creditors are abusing debtors. But they just took borrowers’ word that they don’t owe what they owe. A recent federal study shows more than 96% of such complaints are “frivolous.”

The Federal Trade Commission’s 2013 study found that only 3.2% of consumer debt is legitimately disputed. In the meantime, the agency is helping deadbeats to get out of paying their debts by posting samples of letter they can send to creditors to tell them to bug off.

Redistributing wealth by letting debtors and deadbeats off the hook for their debts is not helpful for the economy, for blacks, or for the national polity.

The biracial Barack Obama presented himself in 2008 as the presidential candidate who would show us the way to national unity. No more red America and no blue America. He was going to fix it. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but like everything else, he didn’t mean it. Now Democratic control of the Senate is threatened, and it’s time to revert to the tried and true tactic of race-baiting.  Only politicians act as if the whole world is centered on race, class and sex. Class envy and racial demagoguery.

When Democrat policies fall, Democrats fall back on race as the issue. They have such a miserable history with race, but it does get annoying when they try to claim that Republicans —Republicans! are segregationists. Excuse me. Despite Democratic myth-making, Lincoln was a Republican. The slave holders in the South were Democrats, the KKK was a Democratic organization. The Dixiecrats were Democrats. Bull Connor was a Democrat. The Republicans were abolitionists. The Republican Party was founded as a party of abolition, and has remained so.



The Administration Will Not Surrender U.S. Protection of the Open Internet—for Now. by The Elephant's Child

The Obama administration has backed off from its plan to abandon U.S. protection of the open internet in 2015, only a month after announcing its plan to do so. Objections from Bill Clinton, a warning letter from 35 Republican senators, and critical congressional hearings and the administration now says the change won’t happen for years, if ever.

The proposed change is an agreement under which the U.S. retains ultimate control over the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, known as Icann. Assistant Commerce Secretary Lawrence Strickling told Congress last week they can extend the contract for up four years.

A House panel voted along party lines on Thursday to delay the administration’s plan to surrender oversight over certain internet management functions. Republicans worry that the proposal to transfer power to an international nonprofit group could open the door to an Internet takeover by authoritarian regimes.The bill would block the transfer of Internet powers for up to a year while the Government Accountability Office investigates the administration’s plan. The bill now goes to the full Energy and Commerce Committee for consideration.

Subcommittee chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) argued that the United States should carefully study the proposal before moving forward.”We know what China has done to silence dissent and Vladimir Putin wants to use the powers of the [International Telecommunications Union] to control the internet.”

Democrats accused Republicans of being paranoid. Ranking Democrat Anita Eshoo said “It is not a conspiracy or a digital black helicopter.”

The policy in question is the protection of the Internet’s domain name system (DNS) and the vital Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (ANA)— functions that are the lifeblood of the free flow of information online—linking easy-to-remember domain names to numerical Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Bill Clinton issued a directive to Commerce in 1997, to maintain “a market-driven policy architecture that will allow the new digital economy to flourish while at the same time protecting citizens’ rights and freedoms.” Icann has worked under the auspices of the federal government since 1998 to perform the oversight role.

Obama wants to forsake these essential protections in the name of global accommodation, potentially allowing countries or even bodies like the United Nations to impose their own definition of internet “freedom.” Obama’s decision would be consistent with his views on net neutrality, recent efforts of the FCC to place monitors in U.S. newsrooms and the Justice Department’s surveillance of professional journalists.

There is significant evidence that international groups are big on the “international” or “we are the world” idea, and not so much concerned about freedom and equal access. Many authoritarian countries already try to control and censor the internet. Not everyone believes in freedom of information—and we have considerable evidence in our own country of the current struggle to control speech that is unpopular or provocative or simply disagrees. The recent flap about NSA surveillance has made many international activists concerned, although Internet freedom would seem to offer Internet surveillance free to all comers.

When Icann’s contract with the federal government expires in 2015, it simply means that one government contractor is no longer responsible for the administration task. It does not mean the federal government has agreed to cede the oversight role. Only a vote of the U.S. Congress could do that.



Empty Buildings Are Costing Us Billions! by The Elephant's Child

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“The boarded up building in the photo sits a mere 6 blocks from the White House on prime real estate, but it’s been empty for 30 years! What’s the problem? The building is owned/controlled by the Federal government which often doesn’t even know what it owns, lacks the incentive to control costs and whose bureaucratic strictures make selling difficult even when motivation exists.”

A Google search suggests that most articles have picked up on a 77,000 number, as the number of empty or underutilized buildings owned by the federal government—as a proxy for you and me. The “federal government” is simply the representative of us—a fact that is worth remembering.

Other numbers range from 45,000 to 100,000 and 300,000 which really points out that they have no idea how many empty, underutilized, abandoned buildings or properties there are across the whole country. Missile sites are included, as are buildings so abandoned that trees are growing through the roof. Taxpayers own them, and even when they are vacant—they are still expensive.

The Office of Management and Budget estimates that these buildings could be costing taxpayers $1.7 billion a year. Even empty, someone has to mow the lawns, keep the pipes from freezing, maintain security fences, or pay for some basic power, except when it doesn’t. The only known centralized database that the government has is the inventory maintained by the General Services Administration called the Federal Real Property Profile and it’s not reliable.

Doing something with these buildings is complicated—even when an agency knows it has a building it would like to sell, bureaucratic hurdles limit what they can do. No federal agency can sell anything unless it’s uncontaminated, asbestos-free and environmentally safe. Expensive fixes.

Then the agency has to make sure another agency doesn’t want it. Then state and local governments get a crack at it, then nonprofits—and finally a 25-year-old law requires the government to see if it could be used as a homeless shelter. No wonder many agencies just lock the doors and say forget it.

These publicly owned properties are managed by the federal government for the benefit of the people. There are also enormous amounts of public lands. Military bases: Fort Hood, Texas, now sadly in the news, is 340 square miles in size.

There are National Parks and National Monuments, National Forests, and land ‘managed’ by the Bureau of Land Management. Trillions of dollars worth of land.  And I am undoubtedly neglecting other jurisdictions. My brief Google search made it clear that we are not alone. It is a common governmental problem. I did find one article on “how to squat in abandoned property,” (probably British) and of course, reference to the empty cities of China.

I emphasize taxpayer ownership because President Obama, for political reasons, chose to shut down what he thought of as “government land” under his purview, during the “government shutdown.” The Constitution clearly says “We the People.” Bureaucrats, far too often, forget just who is the boss. They may prefer to think of themselves as enlightened public servants. They are the hired help.

This is one reason why Republicans believe in smaller government, but they aren’t much better at property management. It’s bipartisan.

The boarded up building in the photo sits a mere 6 blocks from the White House on prime real estate but it’s been empty for 30 years! What’s the problem? The building is owned/controlled by the Federal government which often doesn’t even know what it owns, lacks the incentive to control costs and whose bureaucratic strictures make selling difficult even when motivation exists. – See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/03/wasted-resources.html#sthash.2Wo3AW3Q.dpuf
The boarded up building in the photo sits a mere 6 blocks from the White House on prime real estate but it’s been empty for 30 years! What’s the problem? The building is owned/controlled by the Federal government which often doesn’t even know what it owns, lacks the incentive to control costs and whose bureaucratic strictures make selling difficult even when motivation exists. – See more at: http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2014/03/wasted-resources.html#sthash.2Wo3AW3Q.dpuf


More About Our “Ruling Class,” And What To Do About Them by The Elephant's Child

Back to Angelo Codevilla:

“Our ruling class is a machine. That is, it lives by providing tangible rewards to its members. “Machine parties” around the world often provide rank-and-file activists with modest livelihoods, and enhance mightily the upper level members’ wealth. Because of this, whatever else such parties might accomplish, they must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges—civic as well as economic—to the party’s clients, whether directly or indirectly. …

Hence, our Ruling Class’ first priority in any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, it to increase the power of the government—meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves. Secondly it is to recompense political supporters with public money, privileged jobs, contracts, etc. That is why our Ruling Class’ solution, not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming, has been to claim more power for itself. A priori, one might wonder whether enriching and empowering individuals of a certain kind can make American kinder and gentler, much less control the weather. But there can be no doubt that such power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it.

By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life, our Ruling Class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty. …By endowing some in society with the power to force others to sell cheaper than they would like to, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices—or even to buy in the first place—modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Whatever else government may be, it is inherently a factory of privilege and inequality. “

***************

Reason said: “Few essays attracted as much attention from right-wing readers this summer as “America’s Ruling Class—and the Perils of Revolution,” an extended argument that an incestuous social set “rules uneasily over the majority of Americans.” Written by Angelo Codevilla of the Claremont Institute and first published in The American Spectator, this very long article has now been expanded into a very brief book, called The Ruling Class.”

I’ve found the book fascinating because there are so many good arguments to ponder. Real food for thought about just where we are and what we might do about it. Recommended



About that “War on Women” by The Elephant's Child

Jason L. Riley reports in the Wall Street Journal:

At a fundraiser in Miami on Thursday, President Obama described his political opponents as “no less patriotic” than Democrats. “They love their families just as much. Many of them do wonderful things in their communities,” he added. Then he went on to describe Republicans as selfish ideologues who are indifferent to the needs of women and the less fortunate.

“[T]heir basic vision is that we don’t have an obligation, at least through our government, to help; everybody has got to just look out for themselves or the community that you’ve built in your church or synagogue or your block or your family,” said Mr. Obama of the Republican world view as he understands it. “We don’t have to worry about that kid on the other side of town. We don’t have to worry about that woman who is cleaning our house—which is why every initiative we put forward they say no to.”

He cited polls showing public support for preschool education, but he did not cite the multitude of studies that show that it does not confer any lasting benefit for the kids.

He bragged about polls showing that the public liked minimum wage increases, but forgot to mention that such increases are job destroyers and increase unemployment. You can’t just order a business to pay people more without figuring out where the money is going to come from — vastly increased prices, or getting rid of some employees.

He said polls showed that the public supports immigration reform, but didn’t mention what kind of reform the public supports. Since he refuses to support the immigration laws that are on the books, the reform the public supports may refer to first enforcing the laws.

He warned the donors to whom he was speaking (yes, he’s still campaigning, and never mind the mess in the Ukraine) that the midterm elections may not go well for Democrats. And he added:

The challenge is, is that our politics in Washington have become so toxic that people just lose faith and finally they just say, ‘You know what, I’m not interested, I’m not going to bother, I’m not going to vote.

As usual. It is not his fault that everything is going badly — that ObamaCare is a mess, that his weak posture on foreign policy has encouraged Putin’s adventurism, the debt is soaring, and there still are not any jobs. It’s those rascally Republicans refusing to do what he wants them to. At least he didn’t call us racist this time.



Fifty States of ObamaCare Failure by The Elephant's Child

Harry Reid’s pathetic attempt to claim that everyone is lying about the failure of ObamaCare brands him irrevocably as a fool, a liar, and a failure as a Majority Leader.

These few people represent multitudes. It is poor quality health insurance. You can’t travel. It’s too expensive now and the cost is going up dramatically next year.

ObamaCare is on life-support; the patient is comatose and brain dead. The family just won’t admit it.



Congress Calls Obama’s Attention to a Matter of Backbone.. by The Elephant's Child

Eighty-three U.S. senators got together yesterday to demand that President Obama meet with core principles, including unmistakable consequences, in any final nuclear agreement with Iran. Leaders in the bipartisan letter were Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chris Coons (D-DE) Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).

The number of senators included serves as a warning to the administration that they have the support to override a veto on tougher Iran sanctions.  Harry Reid (D-NV) who held up a sanctions vote at the request of the White House, did not sign the letter. The letter stated:

For twenty years, Congress has consistently focused attention on the threat of the Iranian program and taken the lead in initiating sanctions.  Congress has repeatedly stated that preventing an Iranian nuclear capability is a key goal of U.S. foreign policy.  Nine separate pieces of sanctions legislation have passed Congress since 1996.  We appreciate your continued commitment to preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and your efforts to implement the sanctions, which isolated and pressured the regime into negotiations.

We believe that Congress has a continuing role to play to improve the prospects for success in the talks with Iran.  As these negotiations proceed, we will outline our views about the essential goals of a final agreement with Iran, continue oversight of the interim agreement and the existing sanctions regime, and signal the consequences that will follow if Iran rejects an agreement that brings to an end its nuclear weapons ambitions.

They enumerated these core principles:

  • We believe Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
  • We believe any agreement must dismantle Iran’s nuclear weapons program and prevent it from ever having a uranium or plutonium path to a nuclear bomb.
  • We believe Iran has no reason to have an enrichment facility like Fordow, that the regime must give up its heavy water reactor at Arak, and that it must fully explain the questionable activities in which it engaged at Parchin and other facilities.
  • We believe Iran must fully resolve concerns addressed in United Nations Security Council resolutions including any military dimensions of its nuclear program.
  • We believe Iran must submit to a long-term and intrusive inspection and verification regime to achieve the goal described in the Joint Plan of Action “reaffirm[ing] that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek or develop any nuclear weapons.” Finally, we believe Iran must not be allowed during these negotiations to circumvent sanctions. We view this period as one fraught with the danger of companies and countries looking to improve their commercial position in Tehran, especially given recent reports of rising purchases of Iranian oil. Iran cannot be allowed to be open for business. As you have stated, we must come down on those who are undermining sanctions “like a ton of bricks.”

If negotiations failed, or if Iran violated the Joint Plan of Action, Congress will ensure that the legislative authority exists to rapidly and dramatically expand sanctions.

A similar letter was sent to President Obama from the House, led by Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) and Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer(D-MD) and signed by 395 lawmakers.

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who previously opposed unilateral military action against Iran, is losing faith in America’s ability to keep it secure. Israel is one of America’s staunchest allies in the region. Other regional U.S. allies are already making contingency plans. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, worried about the U.S. withdrawal from the region, have forged closer ties than before. Turkey is less willing to work with the U.S. and has even made moves to improve ties with Iran. Israel will go to great lengths to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, with or without Washington’s blessing.



Obama Threatens to Veto Any Bill That Requires Him to Follow the Law! by The Elephant's Child

On Wednesday, the House of Representatives passed the “Enforce the Law Act,” a bill designed to push back against the numerous unilateral moves the Obama administration has used to circumvent the law. There are several different bills directed at the same problem.

H.R. 4138 sponsored by Rep.Trey Gowdy (R-SC) would authorize the House or Senate to sue the executive branch for failing to enforce laws, and provide an expedited process for moving through federal district courts. The bill is one of several the House GOP is pushing to combat “the imperial presidency.”

Five Democrats joined Republicans to pass the bill by a 223 to 181 vote.

President Obama has altered ObamaCare at least 20 times so far. As he said, he has a pen and a phone, and if Congress won’t do what he wants he’ll just go around them. Most recently millions of people have been exempted from the individual mandate due to a convenient change in the rules.

The administration also has announced that individuals would be able to keep their so-called “substandard” health insurance plans that do not comply with ObamaCare until October 2017!

When Congress refused to pass the Dream Act, Obama unilaterally instituted it by creating a “deferred action” program for  young illegal immigrants.

Democrats, for the most part, leaped to the defense of the President, ignoring the separation of powers and the Constitutional law-making function of Congress and the law-enforcing function of the executive.

Liberal law professor Jonathan Turley testified at a House hearing last month that America is at a “Constitutional tipping point.”

“The fact that I happen to think the president is right on many of these policies does not alter the fact that I believe the means he is doing [it] is wrong, and that this can be a dangerous change in our system,” the liberal law professor said. “And our system is changing in a very fundamental way. And it’s changing without a whimper of regret or opposition.”

I think there’s quite a bit of regret and opposition. The problem is that Congress does not have “standing” before the court to sue the president, and force him to enforce the laws as written, passed and signed.

Obama, on the other hand, threatens to veto any Republican bills that require him to follow the law.

The administration strongly opposes H.R. 4138 because it violates the separation of powers by purporting to permit the Congress to challenge in court the exercise by the President of one of his core constitutional functions — taking care that Federal laws are faithfully executed.

In other words Congress is violating the separation of powers by trying to make Obama stop violating the separation of powers. He’s arguing that because Article II leaves it to the president to faithfully execute the law, only Obama gets to decide whether he’s “faithfully executing the law” by selectively ignoring portions of it that benefit him politically.

The bill will, of course, die in the Senate. But the threat of a veto gives conservatives another reason to get their base excited about voting in November, and Obama once again made himself look silly.



“Oh What a Tangled Web We Weave, When First We Practice to Deceive.” by The Elephant's Child

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius testified before the Hour Committee on Ways and Means about the White House’s 2015 budget proposal. To no one’s surprise, Ms. Sebelius was peppered with questions about the impact of the Affordable Care Act and its effect on insurance rates.

“I think premiums are likely to go up, but at a smaller pace than what we’ve seen since 2010,” Mrs. Sebelius said, adding that she thought the likely increases would be less significant than they had been in the years before the federal health-care law was enacted.

You are not going to see any Democrat admitting any time soon that the cost of health care had been declining for a number of years. New life-saving drugs, new diagnostic techniques, more people taking better care of themselves have made a difference. The mantra about the terrible escalating cost of health care being a reason for ObamaCare was always hype.

You already have people complaining that they simply cannot afford the premiums for ObamaCare. At a town hall for Spanish-language media recently, Obama was challenged by a viewer on the economics of it for low-income Americans who are now forced to buy comprehensive health insurance. On a $36.000 annual income, the requirement to buy the broad policy rather than hospitalization coverage combined with a Health Savings Account — which is now illegal, makes it impossible to comply.

The President replied smugly, “if you looked at their cable bill, their telephone, their cell-phone bill — it may turn out that they just haven’t prioritized health care.” He added that if a family member gets sick, the father “will wish he had paid that $300 a month.”

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the health care law is reducing choice and increasing premiums.  Consumers are paying an average of 39% more than they did before the law was implemented.

Liberals just don’t get basic economics. Regulations imposed by the government have a cost of compliance. Whether it is retrofitting a process or installing new equipment, or just all the people who must be hired to deal with the government paperwork, bureaucrats seldom have any understanding of the costs involved in complying. When liberals want to make their health care policies more attractive by including benefits that are not customarily part of a health care policy — it makes the policies cost more. Whether it is free contraceptive pills, or including childbirth  and well-child visits in all policies for all ages, it raises the cost of the policies dramatically. And of course there is the cost of the vast government bureaucracy to administer the whole thing.

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The federal government is so desperate to get healthy young people to sign up that they are waiving the individual mandate — the detail that was supposed to make the whole thing work. Not only that, they are offering all  sorts of ways to avoid being fined or penalized — “hardship cases” loosely enforced. Just please, please sign up, and we’ll revise the law to make it work.

The whole thing is based on guesswork. The proportion of young Americans signing up for coverage through state and federal exchanges has remained below levels thought necessary to keep premiums stable. The administration said 4.2 million people enrolled in health-insurance plans but it doesn’t count unless they have paid up. That is far below the 6 to 7 million the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office projected would sign up.

Next year’s premiums are not set by the government, but by the insurance companies, who don’t really know what costs they have to base their premiums on. Oh well, if it doesn’t work, Obama will just issue some more executive orders. Laws are no longer fixed, but — fluid. Just keep delaying the bad stuff so nobody will know how it will work — until after the election.



When a Billionaire Says Support Climate Change, Democrats Hold a “Talkfest”. by The Elephant's Child

Liberal billionaire Tom Steyer

Why did the Democrats in the Senate hold an all-night pajama party talkfest? They have no intention of passing a bill or doing anything about “cap and trade.” It is all about campaign cash. Tom Steyer, a billionaire hedge-fund manager, who made much of his money on government-subsidized “green’ energy projects, has become one of the Democrat Party’s most important donors.

He has retired from hedge funds to devote all his attention to politics, and particularly to the “urgent” case of climate change. He has pledged to contribute $50 million and raise another $50 million to help Democrats in the 2014 campaign. The catch is that they have to emphasize global warming as an issue. His new group NextGen Political Action. The group will refuse to spend money on behalf of Democrats who oppose climate regulation, but will not spend against them either. To quote Breitbart:

Once upon a time, Democrats complained about fatcats funding campaigns. Then they discovered that it was they who had the fatter cats. So that made the situation different: Fatcats—at least liberal fatcats— are okay.

The new breed of fat cat demands that candidates espouse a Green ideology that happens to be ballot-box poison. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple just announced that he didn’t want any climate change deniers investing in Apple. Way to go! For many Democrats it is a matter of faith, not of science. when it comes to political donations the Koch brothers are far down the list, something like 59th. They are more inclined to invest their money in searching for a cure for cancer. It was John Kerry, married to another Green billionaire, Theresa Heinz Kerry, who declared “Climate change can now be considered another weapon of mass destruction, perhaps the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction.”

The environmental true believers range from passionate to Malthusian. They run around in private jets and limousines, but as a recent Sierra Club press release said “There’s no such thing as sustainable growth, not in a country like the US. We have to de-grow our economy.” Their goal is to de-grow the economy. Passionate true believers are seldom interested in ordinary science, or ordinary economics either.

Among other things they are totally opposed to the Keystone XL pipeline. Dirty Canadian oil needs be banned and to hell with all the jobs. The voters do want jobs, they do want plentiful, cheap energy, and common sense and direct observation leads them to believe that climate change is not an urgent problem.

Leaves Congressional Democrats walking a fine line. They want and need the political donations, but want to avoid anything that might upset the voters on the one hand or the donors on the other. Hence the talkfest.

 




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