American Elephants


Visualizing the Growth of Federal Regulations: Food for Thought. by The Elephant's Child

This Mercatus Center video is from 2014, and doesn’t include the generous contributions of the Obama administration in the last two years, or especially in the days since the election. Knowing that he would be succeeded by Donald Trump instead of Hillary, who could be counted on to continue his policies he was sure, Obama indulged in a orgy of rulemaking, adding nearly 1,500 more pages to the Federal Register just on his final day in office. By January 13, he had already added 571 economically significant rules. To be “economically significant” a rule must have at least $100 million worth of impact.



“It’s a Republic If You Can Keep It” by The Elephant's Child

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Over at Powerline, Steven Hayward wrote that he stumbled across a speech that President Reagan gave in 1977 that describes our modern predicament very well:

But how much are we to blame for what has happened? Beginning with the traumatic experience of the Great Depression, we the people have turned more and more to government for answers that government has neither the right nor the capacity to provide. But government, as an institution, always tends to increase in size and power, not just this government—any government. It’s built-in. And so government attempted to provide the answers.

The result is a fourth branch added to the traditional three of executive, legislative, and judicial: a vast federal bureaucracy that’s now being imitated in too many states and too many cities, a bureaucracy of enormous power which determines policy to a greater extent than any of us realize, very possibly to a greater extent than our own elected representatives. And it can’t be removed from office by our votes.

That gets into the problem of the Administrative State which has become an increasingly larger problem under the Obama administration.

We go to hear their speeches and attend their events and vote for them for public office, and they begin to think that they are special, and if we reelect them, it increases, and newsmen call them by their title and print what they say and before you know it they start believing they are essential, and we start talking about term limits, and making rules that say that they cannot move from holding office to becoming highly-paid lobbyists valuable to their employers quite specifically because they know all the senators and representatives with whom they used to work, and thus the ability to influence them.

When they leave office, do they return home—or do they stay on in the nation’s capitol—unable to part with the power they once had? You see what an incestuous and closed circle it all becomes.

It’s easy to propose term limits for people of the other party, but term limits for your own favorites are another question. You may believe in them as wise legislators who advocate for causes you believe in, who are particularly valuable because they know their way around Congress. At what point do you agree to send them back home and elect a fresh new face who may or may not turn out to be as valuable? Hard questions.

If our government is to be, in Lincoln’s words, “a government of the people, by the people and for the people,” then it will be a constant battle and a constant question, but we have to opt for the people and for generations to come.

I can think of a number of members of Congress who have been returned to Congress by their constituents for years and years that are, frankly, just plain dumb. Is that pure party loyalty? No appealing replacement? Why keep sending them back? Term limits would take care of that, but you’d lose your favorite too.

Do you have a copy of the Constitution? Have you read the whole thing? The Cato Institute (Libertarian) sells a dandy little pocket Constitution which includes the Declaration of Independence as well.  Single copies are $4.95 or are cheaper in quantity. There’s a special on 10 copies for $10.00.

Why would you want ten copies? They make nice gifts for high school seniors off to college or off to the work world. No guarantee that they will read it, but everyone should have their own copy, on the off-chance that they might find it useful to refer to from time to time.

It was Ben Franklin who once said: “It’s a republic, madam, if you can keep it.”



Five More Days Of Obama’s Frantic Efforts to Make an Imprint on History by The Elephant's Child

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The Democrats haven’t behaved this badly since they started a war to keep the institution of slavery, which they considered essential to their economy and way of life. It didn’t end well for them that time either.

Democrat hack John Lewis announced that he was not going to attend the inauguration, because Trump was not a legitimate president. A smattering of other Democrats said they also will not attend. Mr. Lewis seems to think that the Russians elected Mr. Trump. A newer villain seems to be the National Enquirer and other newsstand periodicals  which changed the votes of the Deplorables when they saw them as they were checking out their groceries.

Large groups of far-left protesters will try to disrupt and sabotage Donald Trump’s inauguration by creating blockades, destroying public property. A group called #DisruptJ20 is advertising for people to join them in a “bold mobilization.”  They claim” It must be made clear to the whole world that the vast majority of people in the United Stated do not support his presidency or consent to his rule.” They got that one wrong, the majority of votes have nothing to do with anything. Our presidents are elected by the Electoral College, according to the Constitution. Hillary’s slight lead in the popular vote came entirely from California, which is in part why we have an electoral college.

There are groups with names from the past like Occupy and Blocs. There’s a Motorcycle group coming to the aid of Donald Trump. The Metropolitan Police Chief confirmed that security forces would be able to handle it all. It’s really quite embarrassing, and cringe-making.

In the meantime forgetting his promises to make the transition easy and graceful, President Obama is trying to use his executive power to somehow get a real imprint on history. Last week he designated three new national monuments, expanded another two including a school for freed slaves in South Carolina and a forest in the Pacific Northwest. He ended the wet–foot, dry–foot program for escapees from Cuba, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Vice President Biden, and announced sanctions against 18 Syrian officials for their role in using chlorine as a chemical weapon in 2014. Many departments of the government have increased hiring in case Trump freezes hiring.

As of January 13, Obama has issued 571 economically significant rules. (To be economically significant actions must have at least $100 million worth of economic impact. He can still do more).

The 1996 Congressional Review Act allows Congress to reverse a rule within 60 legislative days of its enactment, and prohibits agencies from issuing a “substantially similar” rule once it was overturned. So we will see. It is going to be interesting. Mr Obama will stay in Washington DC until Sasha finishes school, and apparently plans to lead the opposition.



Political Correctness, Progressivism and the Perpetual War on Real Progress by The Elephant's Child

From Angelo Codevilla: “The Rise of Political Correctness” in the Claremont Review of Books:

The notion of political correctness came into use among Communists in the 1930s as a semi-humorous reminder that the Party’s interest is to be treated as a reality that ranks above reality itself. Because all progressives, Communists included, claim to be about creating new human realities, they are perpetually at war against nature’s laws and limits. But since reality does not yield, progressives end up pretending that they themselves embody those new realities. Hence, any progressive movement’s nominal goal eventually ends up being  subordinated to the urgent, all-important question of the movement’s own power. Because that power is insecure as long as others are able to question the truth of what progressives say about themselves and the world, lprogressive movements end up struggling not so much to create the promised new realities as to force people to speak and act as if these were real: as if what is correct politically—i.e.,what thoughts serve the party’s interest—were correct factually.

Communist states furnish only the most prominent examples of such attempted groupthink. Progressive parties everywhere have sought to monopolize educational and cultural institutions in order to force those under their thumbs to sing their tunes or to shut up. But having brought about the opposite of the prosperity, health, wisdom or happiness that their ideology advertised, they have been unable to force folks to ignore the gap between political correctness and reality.

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This is a pretty good example of how Democrats use “talking points” to get a message across, which is just another form of propaganda— designed to fit an image in your mind. And it is the media that is repeating the talking points. It’s not just repetitive words, but basic ideas, repeated over and over until they seem normal. And this is the media doing Leftist propaganda, not news.

We are told that we must be concerned about feelings: compassion, sympathy, pity, empathy, fellow feeling, care, concern, sensitivity, solicitude, generosity, goodwill, humanitarianism, for the refugees from the Middle East. We have to be nice.

Angela Merkel was just being compassionate when she invited refugees to come to Europe. The refugees were welcomed. They welcomed them with flowers and food and housing. Europe, at Angela Merkel’s invitation, was trying to be nice. She may have lost the next German elections already.

The religion of most of the refugees tells them that Western women are infidels, whores, and it’s fine to rape or mistreat them. So you have “No Go” areas where it is not safe to enter, even for police. The ‘refugees’  don’t want to work, they like being supported. They don’t intend to be assimilated. They are demanding the installation of Sharia law. Europe, overall seems incapable of saying ‘No’ firmly.

Same thing is beginning to happen in this country. Obama is shipping refugees in significant numbers to states that usually vote Republican, The states don’t get to turn them down. If you don’t want to welcome refugees, or object to executive orders or regulations, you are a bad person because you don’t have the proper compassion.

Look again at that list of nice words. You will seldom hear an explanation of just what Sharia Law is, nor of the fact that the refugees are not interested in assimilating, nor in becoming Americans.

More than 4.4 million people are on the wait list to immigrate to the United States. They have applied legally, and want to become Americans, yet Obama is flooding the country with “Syrian refugees” who aren’t necessarily even Syrian, and can’t be vetted. The problem is that Sharia Law and the Islamic way of life are completely incompatible with our way of life.

As I have said, humans are by nature tribal. We want to be with those who share the same background, the same heritage and language, the same customs. Commonalities. Shared experiences. It isn’t about race or ethnicity, though that may matter for some. So what? One of my friends plays tournament bridge, and has friends with whom she shares the pleasure of the game. A nearby shopping center has a food court and adjacent tables often feature a knitting circle, and there is a giant chess board with players from all over, and several games going on at the side.

To Quote Angelo Codevilla again:

Every form of progressivism bases itself on the claim of a special,”scientific.” knowledge of what is wrong with humanity and how to fix it. The formula is straightforward; the world is not as it should be because society’s basic “structural” feature is ordered badly.

As far as I can tell, the source of greatest anger among humanity at the moment is that Leftists are furious at those who disagree with them about the direction of the country, the importance of the Constitution, and the reach of the federal government. That seems to be the basic “structural” feature that is not as it should be. Leftism or progressivism is a religion, and the Left, collectively, are quite as intolerant as the Islamists in our midst. Yet, collectively, they cannot bring themselves to call Islamic terrorism by name.

Human nature is not as it should be, and must be fixed, so that progressives are in charge and no one disagrees with them.  Baldly stated, it’s really not so attractive at all.



A New Year. No Resolutions, Only Hope. by The Elephant's Child

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A new year. I’ve always resisted the idea that the change of the numerical designation of a year on the calendar is a big deal. I don’t do resolutions. Not sure if I ever did, but I have too frequently promised myself that tomorrow I will …, and next week I will …, and you probably know how that goes. I have discarded a lot of stuff that should have been discarded long ago, but that was another broken resolution.

I do have an extensive picture file on my computer, and I deleted Hillary, which took some doing. I had a lot of pictures of Hillary, only some of them flattering. I deleted the rest of the Clintons as well. I took great pleasure in deleting Harry Reid, and Barbara Boxer, and at least the first term of President Obama—the ones with the halos. Don’t try to tell me those were accidental. I could have believed it with 3 or 4, but dozens?

Democrat operatives try not to miss any chance of swaying public opinion. It’s been said that the 2012 election was decided by Hurricane Sandy and the picture of Obama hugging Donna Vanzant, who had just seen her marina destroyed. And I was struck by the White House photo of President Obama being pensive in the Green Room with the good light from the window. That meant he had to leave the Oval Office, go to the Green Room, lean on the back of a red chair with green wallpaper in the background, to look pensive. Uh Huh. It would be nice if opinions were meant to be influenced by deeds rather than visual propaganda.

President Obama has said that he wants to make the transition as easy and helpful as he can, that he plans to stick around in Washington and fight every move of the new president, and is embarked on a program to flood the administration with as many executive orders and regulations as he can, since Mr. Trump has threatened to eliminate as many of the executive orders and cancel as many of the regulations as he can.

Obama’s going to make the job as difficult as he can, and he is ramping up his supporters to try to save ObamaCare. The administration’s contempt for the Constitution could not be more obvious. He clearly learned nothing, nothing at all, from George W. Bush’s graceful and helpful exit. And continued to blame everything on GWB for the next four years. Character counts.



This Is What The Vote Would Look Like If We Abolished the Electoral College. by The Elephant's Child

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Hillary’s “victory” in the popular vote took place entirely in California, because the state is so populous, and so far left. Had California seceded, as some Californians were insisting until the rest of us suggested that they could rejoin Mexico, Hillary would not have had a popular vote win. And this is why the Constitution makes it clear that the popular vote does not matter, because all of our states must have a voice.

If Democrats would take a little time out from their fulminating and just read the Constitution—they might appreciate what a wondrous document it is, and how fortunate we are that the founders wrote it. We are the envy of the world, and yet other countries can seldom be enticed into giving the power to the people, rather than to the reigning government.

Our battles to retain that power— “this government of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth”— are a constant interest and inspiration to the world. Or why did you think whatever we do here makes front page news in the newspapers and broadcasts of the rest of the world? And why our enemies like ISIS and Iran want so badly to destroy us? Our freedom is, of course, messy, and they sneer at the mess without understanding that’s the nature of freedom.



Just a Little More Schadenfreude, by The Elephant's Child

(h/t: Tom Lifson @American Thinker)

 




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