American Elephants


EPA Director Scott Pruitt Moves to Rescind the Absurd “Navigable Waters of the United States” Rule by The Elephant's Child


In the picture above, behold the “Navigable Waters of the United States,”absurd, of course. Scott Pruitt, the new director of the EPA, announced Tuesday  that the Trump administration is moving to rescind the Obama administration’s absurd “Waters of the United States” regulatory overreach. The idea, was a massive power-grab by the Obama EPA that gave the federal government effective authority over millions of acres of American farmland and all sorts of other privately owned acreage.

Under the Clean Water Rule,  the EPA was given authority over the “Navigable” Waters of the United States and all “tributaries”  would be regulated by the federal government. Broadly defined, this meant that anything moist that eventually flowed into something that could be defined as a tributary because it eventually flowed into a “navigable river” could be controlled and regulated by the EPA for the federal government.  More than a bit of a stretch.

That put rural America in panic mode. Farmers, ranchers, dairymen and all sorts of rural people recognized what havoc such a rule could cause.

But the American Farm Bureau Foundation warned that a plain-reading of WOTUS meant that federal regulatory control could be asserted over any land surface that had ever experienced rain flow, had been flooded, or had irrigation ditches. Farmers argued that the federal regulatory redefinition could usurp state control of water use for America’s entire 247,417,282 acres used in row-crop cultivation.

The origin of the rule is found in the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, which was expanded with the “Rivers and Harbors Appropriation Act of 1899,” and then the “Clean Water Act of 1972” which aimed to protect America’s public drinking water from contamination. There’s a good example of federal rulemaking and how it can worm its way through agencies and committees.

The proposed rule change will be published in the Federal Register, under Docket ID No. EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0203, the public will have a 30-day comment period to “review and revise “the definition of the “Waters of the United States’ Rule.”

This is consistent with the Executive Order signed by President Trump aimed at “Restoring the Rule of Law, Federalism and Economic Growth by Reviewing the Waters of the United States’ Rule.”

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Exposing The Left, And It’s Not Pretty by The Elephant's Child

Important stories from the past few days that you might have missed:

—”30 GOP Congressmen Have Been Attacked or Threatened Since May”A total of 30 Republican members of Congress have either been attacked or revealed that they were the victim of a death threat since the beginning of May. This includes the Republicans who were on Hendrickson’s list when he shot Steve Scalise and others at the Republican charity baseball game.

—Mary Katherine Ham explains the “Aftermath of Alexandria Shooting Showed the Left’s Cultural Bullying At It’s Worst” much of the Left,  if it wasn’t praise for the shooter, it was the closest thing to it. Unbelievably crass.

—Daniel Greenfield explains what’s happening in a brilliant column titled “Anger Privilege:” If you want to know who has privilege in a society and who doesn’t, follow the anger. There are people in this country who can safely express their anger. And those who can’t. If you’re angry that Trump won, your anger is socially acceptable. If you were angry that Obama won, it wasn’t.

James Hodgkinson’s rage was socially acceptable. It continued to be socially acceptable until he crossed the line into murder. And he’s not alone. There’s Micah Xavier Johnson, the Black Lives Matter cop-killer in Dallas, and Gavin Long, the Black Lives Matter cop-killer in Baton Rouge. If you’re black and angry about the police, your anger is celebrated. If you’re white and angry about the Terror travel ban, the Paris Climate treaty, ObamaCare repeal  or any Leftist cause, you’re on the side of the angry angels.

But if you’re white and angry that your job is going to China or that you just missed being killed in a Muslim suicide bombing, your anger is unacceptable. Do read the whole thing. I think he nailed it.

—J.Christian Adams, writing at PJMedia, says President Trump is reportedly frustrated with Deep State leakers trying to sabotage his agenda. “Mr. President, Meet Avner Shapiro, Saboteur From the DOJ Swamp”

President Trump is a supporter of voter identification laws. Avner Shapiro is not. From his perch at the Voting Section of the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division, Avner Shapiro has exerted more will over DOJ’s approach to voter ID — particularly against Texas — than has the president. The saga is a case study  in how Deep State leftists both sabotage the Trump agenda and unethically leak confidential information about litigation decisions.

—Victor Davis Hanson, at National Review. writes on “The Architecture of Regime Change.” ‘ The ‘Resistance’ is using any and all means —lies, leaks, lawbreaking, and violence—to overturn the results of the 2016 election.

The problem with the election of President Donald J. Trump was not just that he presented a roadblock to an ongoing progressive revolution. Instead, unlike recent Republican presidential nominees, he was indifferent to the cultural and political restraints on conservative pushback — ironic given how checkered Trump’s own prior conservative credentials are. Trump brawled in a way McCain or Romney did not. He certainly did not prefer losing nobly to winning ugly.

Even more ominously, Trump found a seam in the supposedly invincible new progressive electoral paradigm of Barack Obama. He then blew it apart — by showing the nation that Obama’s identity-politics voting bloc was not transferable to most other Democratic candidates, while the downside of his polarization of the now proverbial clingers most assuredly was. To her regret, Hillary Clinton learned that paradox when the deplorables and irredeemables of the formerly blue-wall states rose up to cost her the presidency.



Everything You Have Thought About Today’s American Journalism is True by The Elephant's Child

The new issue of Imprimus  features a piece from long time journalist Michael Goodwin, chief political columnist for The New York Post, based on a speech that Goodwin gave at a Hillsdale event. It is a raw and intensive look at contemporary journalism by a long time practitioner who knows his way around the media. It’s just as bad as you thought.

I’ve been a journalist for a long time. Long enough to know that it wasn’t always like this. There was a time not so long ago when journalists were trusted and admired. We were generally seen as trying to report the news in a fair and straightforward manner. Today, all that has changed. For that, we can blame the 2016 election or, more accurately, how some news organizations chose to cover it. Among the many firsts, last year’s election gave us the gobsmacking revelation that most of the mainstream media puts both thumbs on the scale—that most of what you read, watch, and listen to is distorted by intentional bias and hostility. I have never seen anything like it. Not even close. …

During the years I spent teaching at the Columbia University School of Journalism, I often found myself telling my students that the job of the reporter was “to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.” I’m not even sure where I first heard that line, but it still captures the way most journalists think about what they do. Translate the first part of that compassionate-sounding idea into the daily decisions about what makes news, and it is easy to fall into the habit of thinking that every person afflicted by something is entitled to help. Or, as liberals like to say, “Government is what we do together.” From there, it’s a short drive to the conclusion that every problem has a government solution.

Goodwin goes on to explain how today’s journalism has gone astray,  how it came about, and how bad it really is (Just what you thought, and even more).

I knew all of this about the media mindset going into the 2016 presidential campaign. But I was still shocked at what happened. This was not naïve liberalism run amok. This was a whole new approach to politics. No one in modern times had seen anything like it. As with grief, there were several stages. In the beginning, Donald Trump’s candidacy was treated as an outlandish publicity stunt, as though he wasn’t a serious candidate and should be treated as a circus act. But television executives quickly made a surprising discovery: the more they put Trump on the air, the higher their ratings climbed. Ratings are money. So news shows started devoting hours and hours simply to pointing the cameras at Trump and letting them run.

A study, Goodwin says, estimated that Trump had received so much free airtime that if he had to buy it the price would be around $2 billion. Executives realized that they had helped Trump’s rise, which made them furious, and soon they were gunning for him.

It’s a fascinating look at a failed media that can no longer perform its assigned task in the American political landscape. Do take the time to read it if you can. It has changed how we search for information. I have long believed that in the new electronic age, students need to be taught how to look for information, how to judge the quality of the information, and enough history to understand why it is important to search carefully, to be informed, and why their vote is important and needs to be well informed. We’ve been watching the education establishment disintegrate before our eyes, and the evidence from college students that they need safe spaces where they can refuse to listen to ideas that might disagree with their own.

With journalism no longer a viable source for accurate news, we have turned to blogs, judged their information and veracity, and the trustworthiness of the provider. Others have turned to social media, and Twitter has assumed an outsized role as a potential clue to future trends, currency, reach, and yet it may not have that significance at all. Combine that with our ordinary human shortcomings — impatience, laziness, reluctance to read anything long— and I suspect we are becoming less and less informed. But then I was an English major and a glutton for reading. Do any of us currently have a hunger to know and understand in an age when sheer entertainment is so pleasurable and so readily available?

Do read the Imprimus article. It will give you a deep understanding of where the media is and why, and give you armor and a nudge towards knowing more and to hell with the “journalism” profession.

(To subscribe to Imprimus, just go to the Hillsdale College website and sign up. It’s free and always informative.)

 



If It Weren’t So Serious, It Would Be Funny! by The Elephant's Child

The progressive temper-tantrum is getting really tiresome, but all that kicking and screaming is devolving into some kind of weird suicide pact.  When President Trump rejected the Paris Climate Treaty, which had never been ratified by the Senate, “the states of California, New York and Washington have announced that they will unilaterally and illegally enter into a foreign treaty rejected by the President of the United States.”

The Constitution is very clear about this. “No state shall enter into any treaty.” Governor Cuomo of New York has been equally clear. “New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions.”

Cuomo’s statement conveniently comes in French, Chinese and Russian translations.

“It is a little bold to talk about the China-California partnership as though we were a separate nation, but we are a separate nation,” Governor Brown of California announced.

That’s Daniel Greenfield. He added:

The Climate Alliance of California, New York, Washington, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Oregon, Colorado, Hawaii, Virginia and Rhode Island looks a lot like the Confederacy’s Montgomery Convention. Both serve as meeting points for a secessionist alliance of states to air their grievances against the Federal government over an issue in which they are out of step with the nation.

That’s as effective as the media’s vast confidence that the Comey hearings today would provide the necessary evidence to impeach the President. Or these states’ confidence that offering sanctuary to illegal immigrants would prove that they really are good people who welcome immigrants of all kinds from all places. The scientific evidence shows clearly that by 2100, the Paris Climate Accords would have made no observable difference in the climate. But feeling good about yourself is the important thing. That’s why events like Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester resulted in a vast outpouring of a mountain of flowers and lots and lots of candles, which makes no observable difference in the safety of British citizens. Heather MacDonald explained:

The candlelight vigils didn’t work. After the Manchester Arena suicide bombing in England last month, liberal pundits suggested “mass vigils” and “community solidarity” as a counterterrorism response. The most important imperative, according to the media intelligentsia, was to signal that the West’s commitment to “diversity” and “inclusion” was intact.

Unfortunately, the three Islamic terrorists who used a van and knives to kill another seven civilians and critically injure dozens more in London on Saturday night were unmoved by the “diversity” message. Witnesses described the killers frantically stabbing anyone they could reach, while shouting “This is for Allah”; one witness said that a girl was stabbed up to 15 times.

The “candlelight vigil” counsel has been more muted after this latest attack, though the New York Times has predictably advised the candidates in Britain’s upcoming elections not to succumb to “draconian measures” or to do “just what the terrorists want” by undermining democratic values.

In a second article from City Journal, Heather MacDonald writes of “The Left’s Unilateral Suicide Pact: After the Manchester bombing, liberals once again avoid the obvious—that Islamic terror in the West is an immigration problem.”

A rethinking of immigration policies is off the table. Nothing that an Islamic terrorist can do will ever shake the left-wing commitment to open borders—not mass sexual assaults, not the deliberate slaughter of gays, and not, as in Manchester last week, the killing of young girls. The real threat that radical Islam poses to feminism and gay rights must be disregarded in order to transform the West by Third World immigration. Defenders of the open-borders status quo inevitably claim that if a terrorist is a second-generation immigrant, like Abedi, immigration policy has nothing to do with his attack. (Abedi’s parents emigrated to Britain from Libya; his immediate family in Manchester lived in the world’s largest Libyan enclave outside Africa itself.) …

The fact that second-generation immigrants are not assimilating into Western culture makes immigration policy more, not less, of a pressing matter. It is absurd to suggest that Abedi picked up his terrorist leanings from reading William Shakespeare and William Wordsworth, rather than from the ideology of radical Islam that has been imported into Britain by mass immigration.

Myron Magnet echoes Heather MacDonald’s concerns.” Governments, he reminds us, exist to keep citizens safe in their streets and cities from foreign or domestic violence”

Start by naming the enemy, as Donald Trump and Theresa May finally have done, after eight years of Barack Obama’s dereliction of duty for refusing to utter the simple words, “Islamist terrorism.” As numerous pundits—notably Andrew C. McCarthy, successful prosecutor of the 1993 Islamist World Trade Center bombers—have explained, Islamism, a large subcategory of Islam, is not only a religion but also a political ideology that aims at world domination, so that treating it as if, like Christianity or Judaism, it preaches only individual salvation or virtue is mistaken at best, willfully blind at worst.

You have perhaps noticed that there are only two positions regarding immigration. You are expected to favor all immigration because “we are all immigrants”, and if you don’t, it’s Islamophobia, Nativism, Fascism of course, and Nationalism. Other epithets when they seem to fit. We have a million and a half people who wish to become Americans who have applied properly, paid their fees and are patiently waiting for their turn to immigrate. I fail to understand why illegals, who are breaking the law, should take precedence over those who are following the law. We are a sovereign nation, we have immigration laws, and there is no reason why they should be suspended because Democrats want more immigrants who might vote for them.

The Leftist states are not just attempting to secede, but unfortunately they’re not very good at economics either. They are furious that the new administration is attempting to get rid of ObamaCare, and plan to adopt single-payer or completely socialized medical care on their own.

Vermont, Colorado , New York and California have so-called “single payer” health care proposals far enough along to have some serious numbers  about incremental costs above and beyond the existing state government expenses for things like Medicaid. In every case the incremental costs came in at more than all the revenue from all existing state taxes, so enacting single-payer would require more than doubling existing state taxes.

There are lots of people who believe that there is lots of “government money” without realizing that the government has no money of it’s own, only what it collects in taxes.

Connecticut is close to bankruptcy. California cannot afford her useless high-speed train to nowhere, and attempting to add single-payer health care, is going to add California to the list. The sunshine state is already over $1 trillion in the hole for employee pension underfunding. They don’t call Jerry Brown “Governor Moonbeam” for no reason. Illinois, Connecticut, Hawaii, Massachusetts and New Jersey  are not far behind with underfunded pensions.

Temper tantrums  are one thing, but secession, thwarting the law, bankruptcy, and attempts to illegally enter into a foreign treaty and to promote violence simply because you lost an election is going too far.

 



Remember the Huge Protests When Obama Was Elected, So Now It’s Payback Time? by The Elephant's Child

The Democrats’ derangement gets more alarming. I’ve seen three pieces so far from respected reporters suggesting that what we are seeing is an attempt at a silent coup. One would think that this could be dismissed with an “Oh please!” but they are quite serious.

John Podesta is reportedly reduced to delusional claiming, without any evidence whatsoever, that Donald Trump is “unfit for office,” whose actions are often “absolutely crazy” and whose White House has “a complete disregard for the truth.” “It’s clear to him that Republicans on Capitol Hill are not going to turn on him at this point.”

Mr. Podesta is still trying to make something out of the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, which he seems to believe was because of his interference which damaged Hillary. Mr. Comey was fired because he exceeded his authority which is strictly investigative, by assuming  the role of the Justice Department in deciding not to prosecute Hillary. Then the Democrats got all excited by the idea that President Trump was guilty of obstructing justice because he said something to Comey about not prosecuting Michael Flynn. The President doesn’t need a reason to fire an FBI director, the decision is his to make. His remark about going easy on Flynn has had no effect on the Flynn investigation, which has continued.

We know that the Democrats were urging their activists to go to their Republican representatives’ town hall meetings and raise hell. Scare them into refusing to vote for any of Trump’s initiatives. Now it seems that Republican congresspeople are facing violence and death threats from Left-wing activists. “A man was arrested last week for threatening Rep. Martha McSally in voicemail messages, telling her that her days “were numbered” because of her support for the president. At her February town hall she was heckled as activists carried signs saying “Stop Trump’s crusade of hate” (?) and “No! this fascist regime must be stopped before it starts.” “A woman was arrested after she allegedly attempted to drive Rep. David Kustoff (R-TN) off the road over his support of the Republican health care bill after an event. When the car stopped, she is alleged to have attacked the car, hitting the windows and reaching inside the car. She was arrested after she bragged about it on Facebook.” A number of representatives are increasing their security. Often the members of their families are getting threats.

I’m not one to point fingers, but I might mention that John Podesta was Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager.

When Barack Obama won the election in 2008, a good many Republicans were less impressed with a  need for the first black president than they were worried about Mr. Obama’s meager experience, and the fact that the Democrats were calling him things like “light-worker” and the most brilliant man ever to run for the presidency. I just don’t recall any demonstrations at his inauguration, or protests at his speeches. Poor Mr. Podesta is still blathering on about the popular vote, apparently still unaware that we don’t elect people by the popular vote in America. William Voegeli wrote in the Spring 2017 issue of the Claremont Review of Books that:

 Soon after the 2016 election result was in, Donald Trump’s opponents designated themselves melodramatically “the Resistance.” … either you’re part of the Resistance, or you’re part of the evil the Resistance is resisting.In the Age of Trump, public figures can neither declare themselves neutral nor simply decline to have, or share, their personal views. Gallon’s critics made clear that to do anything less than revile Trump. in any public setting, is to “normalize” him, thereby imperiling all that is good and decent in our land. The Old Normal, where everything Trump represents  and intends was understood to be odious and catastrophic, must never devolve into a New Normal that legitimates Trump and Trumpism.

I refer you back to the map in a previous piece below, of the counties in America and who they voted for. The Democrats not only lost the election, their prominent people are old. Diane Feinstein is 83, Hillary is 69, Nancy Pelosi is 76, Chuck Schumer is 66, Jerry Brown is 78, Elizabeth Warren is 67 and she may not survive the next election, she’s reportedly unpopular. The head of the DNC, Tom Perez, has a vulgarity problem, and announced that there  was no room in the Democrat Party for anyone who was pro-life. I’m not sure that all this “resistance” is really going to play well in America. Hillary announced that she was part of the Resistance, and was going back to raising money. We’ve had a surprising number of perennial candidates who keep running and running. Someone even suggested that Jerry Brown should run again.



The American Left and the American Right: Is It War? by The Elephant's Child

In some ways, it’s really quite amazing that we can talk to our progressive friends. We don’t speak the same language and we definitely don’t define words in the same way.

They speak emotion and future and purification of the human race, we speak of Constitution and laws, economics, innovation and opportunity. They talk endlessly about fairness and diversity. But we don’t mean the same thing, for example, by diversity. For the left it means skin color, ethnicity, country of origin—surface things. Conservatives are interested in diversity of ideas, interests, habits and history, hopes and dreams. The left is terminally interested in gender, to the disadvantage of everyone, and all of its variations which must be noted, celebrated and paraded and now joined forever in shared bathrooms. Conservatives recognize two genders descended from Adam and Eve with the same characteristics those two started with. Conservatives celebrate and respect family. The left tries to destroy it.

There are remarkable numbers of useless phrases in circulation: clean energy, sustainable development, renewable energy, fairness, income inequality, normative framework, undocumented citizens and of course multiculturalism — the NYT recently came up with “incorrect promise.” Some of these constructions are meant to change minds and actions.

Grocery stores celebrate all thing organic,which means quite specifically that they must be grown and fertilized with manure, not chemicals.  Technically it’s all nitrogen, but real animal poop has the extra advantage of possibly infecting you with e-coli. Consider how it is supposed to effect the quality of the sheets for your bed if the cotton from which they were woven was fertilized with steer manure? Organic is pure bunk, and costs about 30% more.

College students are so sensitive to language that they cannot bear to hear ideas or thoughts expressed which disagree with their own ideas.  Free speech is a term that has specific First Amendment meaning for Conservatives, but I’m unclear about just what the Left thinks it means.

The most recent idiocy is perhaps cultural appropriation, which became a big deal on some campus with the idea that large hoop earrings were a cultural appropriation, and should be rejected. This is perhaps the silliest idea they have come up with. Bruce Bawer said it nicely:

For two centuries, America accomplished something that should have previously seemed impossible: the creation of a brand new national identity by individuals who, forsaking old loyalties and joining to make new lives melted away ethnic differences. Hector St. John Crevecour (Letters from an American Farmer) described Americans as “a new race of men” a race that paradoxically had nothing to do with race.” In 1944, Gunnar Myrdal marveled at the fact that Americans of every ethnicity, religion and color shared a more “explicitly expressed system of general  ideals” than the people of any other country in the Western world.”

Lots of cultural appropriation — and good for us.



Where is the Left Going And What Do They Want? by The Elephant's Child

I ran across my notes from a panel discussion on where the Left is going, back in the fall of 2014, and it’s still of interest.

“The left is intellectually dead, and where it is headed toward is authoritarianism.”That was Kevin Williamson, roving correspondent for National Review.

William Voegeli of the Claremont Review of Books argued that “The fundamental assumption of the left is the innate goodness of each person.  This assumption means that they are seeking to undermine the Constitution, which is based on a very different view of human nature. The Constitution pits the different branches of government against each other so that each will keep the others in check.”

As James Madison put it in the Federalist, “Ambition must be made to counteract ambition,” and the Constitution supplies the “defect of better motives” through such balancing.

The Constitution, in other words, expects selfish ambition, and by expecting ambition, Voegeli noted, it legitimizes it—which is precisely what the left does not want to do. The left wants to supply not the “defect of better motives” but rather just “better motives,” Voegeli said. Liberals want to set up a system that allows our latent goodness to “flourish,” and the checks of our constitutional system can be discarded in favor of technocratic, centralized disinterestedness that allows each individual to live an authentic life of his choosing.

“The object is not to have one’s own way so much as to have a way that is one’s own,”




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