American Elephants


Social Justice, The Attack on Freedom, and The Drive for Control. by The Elephant's Child

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— Under the United States Constitution, laws are supposed to be made and changed by the legislature, not by the president and his unelected bureaus and agencies and departments. They call laws issued by the president or one of his minions “administrative law,” which sounds innocuous unless you really stop and think about it.

Most presidents, facing defeat at the polls, make an effort to  try for  bipartisanship. Obama does not operate that way. He despises Republicans, and has set all his legal people to work trying to find ways to pass everything he wants on his own authority.

So here we go again. A proposed rule from the Department of Labor would compel businesses to reveal the names of outside attorneys or labor relations consulting firms with whom they contract. Then the consultants and attorneys contracted would be required to publicly disclose all other similar clients and how much they were paid for their services. George Leef says:

There is nothing illegal in contracting with attorneys and consultants who advise management on the legalities of and tactics relating to fending off unionization. But with time running out in the Obama administration to do favors for Big Labor, the Labor Department wants to do as much as it can to deter companies from dealing with such specialists.

The applicable federal law is the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. That law was catalyzed by the explosive McClellan Committee hearings in 1957-8, which disclosed, as the statute recites, “a number of instances of breach of trust, corruption, disregard for the rights of individual employees, and other failures to observe high standards of responsibility and ethical conduct….” The thrust of the law, therefore, was to increase transparency on the part of both companies and unions.

One provision of the LMRDA requires employers to name consultants they hired who directly spoke to workers, to solve the supposed problem of workers not realizing when they were being sweet-talked by management allies. But the law also includes an exception (Section 203c) for those who simply give advice to the company.

— If you can’t confiscate America’s guns because the public and the Congress won’t approve, there must be another way:  It’s called “Operation Choke Point” which is a Justice Department effort to require, through the FDIC — forcing banks to stop providing financial services to certain industries.

The businesses in ill favor are lawful firearms dealers, payday lenders, escort services and other companies. Justice has encouraged banks to provide services to others like illegal marijuana sales, marijuana shops, abortion clinics, or radical environmental organizations.

Banks find the restrictions onerous, and require extraordinary amounts of due diligence and excessive paperwork. The government  hasn’t been successful at ammunition restrictions, or with false claims about gun shows, so they’re trying a more oblique attack. Congress has passed a bill attempting to end this improper, illegal run-around.

— The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) wants to know just how much you are getting paid. The administration is chasing “Income Inequality” not to make sure that some people are being treated unfairly, but for control.

‘The EEOC announced changes to its required EEO-1 report requiring employers to submit employee W-2 earnings and hours worked. All employers with at least 100 employees would be required to comply. EEOC and the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP) would jointly have access to the data for enforcement purposes.”

“Pay data will be reported in 12 pay bands (e.g. pay band 5 is $39,000 – $49,000) and by race, ethnicity, sex and job category (e.g. 13 black female professionals in pay band 5).”

The Obama Progressives talk equality, but they mean equality for the hoi-polloi  (which is you and me). They don’t mean themselves — such a big mass of hoi-polloi would require skilled administrators and executives and rulers to whom such pedestrian social justice laws do not apply.

Republicans talk about Big Government, and this is what they mean, but they are quite guilty themselves in sending their laws on to agencies and bureaus and commissions to administer. It will take a very able and experienced president who understands the problem of administrative law, and is willing to fight to do something about it.

You mostly don’t slip into Socialism and lose your freedom and autonomy overnight, it’s a long process, and you wake up one morning and it’s gone.



How Democrats Lie and Mislead About the American Economy by The Elephant's Child

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—The correct minimum wage is $0.00. If you want to hire your neighbor’s 11 year old kid to mow your lawn or pull weeds, you should be able to offer him something under the current minimum wage.

The goofy Democrat line is “But you can’t raise a family on the minimum wage.” Well, no you can’t, but by the time you have a family, you should have some skills that are more useful than those of a pure beginner. We forget that employment, like everything else in the economy, depends on supply and demand. The supply of people who can do a simple minimum wage job successfully is very, very large. The supply of those who can run a giant corporation with 20 divisions, 20,000 employees and country-wide or international reach is significantly much, much smaller. The average tenure for a CEO as head of a corporation is only six years.

—Wal-Mart, America’s largest employer just announced that they will close more than 150 US stores — which will mean that 10,000 employees will lose their jobs. Shutting down underperforming stores will help to move the company back to health, when it can create more permanent jobs. Wal-Mart voluntarily raised its base wage to $9 an hour last April, but this resulted in a 10% drop in earnings. A Union backed group that has heckled the retailer to raise it’s entry level wage, was astonished. But the job losses are the direct result of the changes made at Wal-Mart.

—Here’s Economist Mark Perry at AEI with a list of ten reasons why economists object to the minimum wage.

Obama and Hillary are still pretending that women are paid less than men because America’s employers discriminate against female workers. The Left needs women to be victims, and Hillary is running on her qualifications as a woman. “Today, women account for almost half of the workforce,” Obama huffed. “But the typical woman who works full time still earns 79 cents for every dollar that the typical man does.” Bogus statistic, and Obama knows it, for it simply depends on comparing all women to all men. It has been against the law to pay women and men who do the same job differently since 1963.

Unless women stop getting married and having children, and start abandoning careers in childhood education for naval architecture, this huge gap in wages will almost certainly persist. Democrats thus can keep bringing it up every two years.

—Income inequality, the basis of the entire Democrat campaign, is a factor of demographics. Kids starting out have little income and may have big student loans, or renting an apartment or buying a used car are big expenses. There are more middle-age and old people now than there used to be, and older people tend to have more money than their younger counterparts simply because they have been earning money much longer.

A 70 year old man has been saving most of his life. He owns his home. his children are  grown, he gets Social Security on retirement, and has benefited from a life-long buildup of career skills and connections and is apt to have far more money than a 30 year old. There is a clear relationship between age and the median net worth of people in every quintile. There are more old people as the baby boomers reach retirement age, and the birth rate has dropped so there are fewer young people. Do not let the Democrats fool you with their whining about Income Inequality. Sheer Demographics.

—In his remarks to the Press on Friday, when he bragged about the wonderfulness of his economy, Obama mentioned the drop in the cost of gasoline as one of his beneficial outcomes. That happened in spite of Obama, not because of Obama, as a result of the glut of oil based on Fracking. Obama’s instinctive response is to try to slap a $10 a barrel tax on oil so he can raise the cost of gasoline at the pump — while having more taxes to invest in “clean energy” which is pure waste. Obama’s wind and solar investment, in spite of the huge subsidies and grants, provide a resounding 0.3 percent of America’s energy.

(additional sentence added about equal pay for women)



A Brief Comment on Obama’s Rose Colored Glasses by The Elephant's Child

President Obama: press briefing, Friday, February 5, 2016, on the just released jobs report:

TGIF, everybody.  I wanted to stop by, because as you’re aware by now, America’s businesses created another 158,000 jobs last month.  After reaching 10 percent in 2009, the unemployment rate has now fallen to 4.9 percent — even as more Americans joined the job market last month.  So this is the first time that the unemployment rate has dipped below 5 percent in almost eight years.  Americans are working.

All told, over the past six years, our businesses have added 14 million new jobs.  Seventy-one straight months of private-sector job growth extends the longest streak on record.  Over the past two years, 2014 and 2015, our businesses added more jobs than any time since the 1990s. …

So, as I said at my State of the Union address, the United States of America, right now, has the strongest, most durable economy in the world.  I know that’s still inconvenient for Republican stump speeches as their doom and despair tour plays in New Hampshire.  I guess you cannot please everybody.

Zero Hedge: 02/05/2016, 10;14 a.m.
Headline : “70% Of Jobs Added in January Were Minimum Wage Waiters and Retail Workers”

For those curious where the big jump in earnings came from, the answer appears rather simple: the reason, according to the BLS’ breakdown of jobs added in January (per the Establishment survey), of the 151,000 jobs added in the past month, retail trade added 58,000 jobs in January, while employment in food services and drinking places, aka waiters and bartenders, rose by 47,000 in January.

Simple: state regulations demanding higher wages for minimum wage workers starting January 1, which as discussed previously will promptly lead to employers passing on wage hikes costs to consumers in the form of 10% higher food prices starting in NYC and soon everywhere else.

This is the full breakdown of January job gains:

  • Retail Trade: +58K
  • Leisure and Hospitality, which includes food workers: +44K
  • Professional and business service workers, excluding temp workers: +34K
  • Manufacturing workers posted a curious rebound, rising by +29K. We are confident this number will be revised promptly lower.
  • Construction +18K
  • Wholesale Trade: +9K
  • Education and Health saw a big and unexplained drop from 54K to 6K
  • Information services added just 1K workers
  • As for sectors losing workers included Temp Help workers, Transportation and Warehousing (courtesy of the truck and train recession), Mining and Logging, and Government workers.


First You Conduct the Operation, Then You Can Tell the Bad Guys About It, If There Are Any of Them Left. by The Elephant's Child

US-Defense-Secretary-Ashton-Carter

I wrote back on the 16th that the president seems to feel free to announce our military operations in advance, in effect warning our enemies about just what we’re up to. Our enemies not only read our papers and the internet, but devote considerable expertise to hacking intelligence sources to find out what we are doing.

Is it standard military procedure now to announce everything we are doing or going to do in advance? Or is this Obama, stung by the response to his State of the Union everything is dandy speech trying to show that he’s not either a weak doormat, and does too send needed troops, but can’t manage to do anything without bragging about it first? Seems odd. But then Obama has had a habit of always telling the enemy what we’re going to do, then tacking on restrictive rules of engagement to make sure nobody gets hurt so that he cannot be blamed. But what do I know, I’m just a civilian worrier.

General Joseph Votel, chief of U.S. Special Operations Command wrote to Defense Secretary Ash Carter demanding that the Pentagon stop discussing the operations of elite American troops.

The White House announced in October that a small number of special operations forces—less than 50 —would be deployed to Syria to fight the terror group there. Then Carter told lawmakers that the U.S. would deploy a specialized expeditionary targeting force” to fight Iraq to fight ISIS. These special operators will over time be able to conduct raids, free hostages, gather intelligence and capture ISIL leaders, Carter told the House Armed Services Committee hearing, according to the Hill.

An anonymous defense official questioned about the memo told Foreign Policy that Carter “shares Gen. Votel’s concerns about the public disclosure of SOF operations, especially any reporting that could expose our personnel to additional risk and undermine their chances for success.”

He further stated, however, that the Pentagon is obligated to keep the public informed.

I don’t think the Pentagon is obligated to keep the public informed before an operation. After will do just fine. I just don’t want the president or the Pentagon making a mission more dangerous by announcing it beforehand, when it is not necessary. Americans may be casual about keeping up with the latest troop movements. Our enemies are not. Shouldn’t that be basic common sense?



Is America Still Racist? by The Elephant's Child

A question that seems appropriate for Martin Luther King Day. Here’s Larry Elder, appearing for Praeger University. President Obama, was elected as the first Black President of the United States, with expectations that he would do much to improve the situation of blacks in the country. Instead his economy has been more devastating to the black community than anyone else.

Worrying about the black vote has meant more welfare and fewer jobs. The Keystone XL pipeline promised 13,000 high paying construction jobs, but that was trumped by Tom Steyer’s promised $100 million to the Democrats for rejecting it. Obama’s excuse was that construction jobs are only ‘temporary.’ Of course they are, but successful work on one construction job means a leg up on the next construction job. The unemployment rate for blacks has been nearly twice the rate for whites.

The Left does not understand the effect of incentives. A study from the University of Chicago concludes that “in response to the recession, several U.S. safety-net programs changed in ways that discouraged employment. Unemployment insurance, for example, was made more generous in multiple ways. Eligibility rules for food stamps were reduced, waivers from work requirements were granted, and the monthly benefit amount was increased.”

People are not apt to look hard for work, or even accept a job offer that is not quite as good as hoped, when remaining unemployed is made more comfortable. Sounds ‘mean,’ perhaps, but what people need and what the country needs is not the comfortable unemployed, but the happy and independent  worker.

The most surprising of Obama’s initiatives was his failure to support the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program. He has worked hard to get rid of it, yet it has benefited so many black children. Inexplicable. But the teacher’s unions don’t like the scholarship program.

The Left has long believed in, essentially, buying votes. Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are busily engaged in trying to compete in benefits they will give to those who vote for them. Free college tuition (where does the money come from?), and a false assumption that every child must go to college. Higher taxes on the rich (exceedingly modest benefit) and “the rich” are often those who create jobs. Raising the minimum wage has been clearly shown to be a job destroyer. Universal pre-school may be welcome baby-sitting, but any educational benefits have disappeared by 3rd grade.

What we need is a healthier economy that is creating jobs for everyone. The Obama administration has hampered growth with raised taxes on productivity, and a huge burden of regulation.



The Alternate Reality of The Obama Administration by The Elephant's Child

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Perhaps no post-World War II president (and maybe none before) has justified his executive overreach by openly contending he was working around the lawmaking branch of government because it had refused to do what he desired. Whether a court finds his actions constitutional or not, it’s an argument that stands, at the very least, against the spirit of American governance. Today many liberals call this leadership.”
…………………………………….     —David Harsanyi at Reason

President Obama’s final ‘State of the Union’ speech is coming up on Tuesday. He has reportedly sent members of his cabinet out about the country to create enthusiasm. Tidbits are being released off and on to tantalize. There will be an empty chair in Michelle’s box to symbolize all the missing victims of mass shootings. According to Gallup, the National Rifle Association (NRA) has a 58 percent favorability rating, while only 35 percent hold an unfavorable opinion. Obama’s approval rate, also from Gallup, is only 47 percent, but it ticked up a little while he was on vacation. Congress has acted on gun control, just not in the way Obama wanted. The Senate rejected legislation in 2013 to expand background checks for gun purchases and to ban certain weapons and ammunition.

Perhaps the most destructive legacy of the Obama administration may be the idea that if Congress fails to act the President must do something himself. Obama has never quite understood the separation of powers nor the fact that Congress more fully represents all of the people that he, as president, does. Our democracy, run solely by the president, is deeply approved by the Left — until there is a Republican president.

Obama has had his team working on the State of the Union speech for two months. He wants no legislative agenda to set himself up for failure in front of a GOP Congress. He wants to talk once again about “Who we are as Americans,” something he has never managed to figure out and which he inserts interminably into every speech.

Mr. Obama has a marvelous ability to see in his history only that which he finds positive. He adds up the numbers of jobs created each month, without considering how many are part-time or second jobs, how many jobs were lost, and completely neglects the 94,446,000 Americans of working age who have given up looking for work. He does not understand that in flooding the job market with foreign competition he has done great damage to the hopes of American workers. Now he plans to award work permits to 100,000 foreigners to work here to compete with Americans for jobs. How is it that he can add all that up and see a positive result for the people?

He sees the non-binding agreement in Paris on Climate Change as a great accomplishment, but it will accomplish nothing, nothing at all. It will not reduce global temperatures more than 1.2º C. or 2.2º F— roughly the difference between 10:00 a.m. and noon on an ordinary spring day. The Iran Deal that he has worked so hard to accomplish, while giving in to Iran on every point, assures that we will be attacked with nuclear weapons here at home. It is the most unbelievable betrayal of American security in history.

Michael Grunwald, a senior staff writer for Politico Magazine, has written a long slobbering paean to the wonderfulness and success and accomplishments of the Obama administration over the past 7 years. If you can bear it, do read the whole thing. It is hard to believe that one man, completely unprepared for the presidency, could make such a mess of things, or that one reporter could possibly have such a rosy view of catastrophe.

Well, America the bad. A reactionary force standing in the way of the noble leftist aspiration. Social Justice. Income inequality. Black Lives Matter.

Here’s a remarkable example. In Philadelphia, a convert to Islam, appeared in Muslim garb, Proclaimed he was doing the shooting of a policeman in the name of Allah. said he had pledged  his allegiance the the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). During a press conference Friday afternoon, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney stated that he believes the shooting of a Philadelphia police officer has “nothing to do with being a Muslim,” despite the suspect saying that he did it in the name of Islam.  So you get headlines like this: “Police probe man’s claim of shooting cop in Islam’s name.”

The pressure to deny reality must be really extreme. Goes right along with Obama calling the shooting at Fort Hood “workplace violence.” They are living in an alternate reality.

Matthew Continetti summed it up a bit in a piece called “The Lamest Duck:”

We have entered a most dangerous period of the Obama presidency. It’s not just that every rogue actor from Kim and Putin and Castro to Maduro and Khamenei and Xi knows he has one last year to behave badly without fear of reprisal. It’s that the president and his team are isolated, aloof, detached from reality.

They think a climate deal is a rebuke to terrorism. They think the response to jihad in San Bernardino is to ‘close the gun-show loophole.’ They think a new communications strategy will convince the public that the war against ISIS is going well. I don’t question Obama’s sincerity. I question his sanity.

What actually results from a given policy seems no longer to matter to him. Take guns—he’d sure like to. His executive order does little more than reiterate current law. It wouldn’t have stopped the killing at Sandy Hook elementary or in San Bernardino. Indeed, the most important consequence of Obama’s fight with the NRA has been record gun sales and a windfall for gun manufacturer shareholders. At least when Hillary Clinton takes on an industry, its stock goes down. Obama can’t even get that right.

From an essay at Commentary by Abe Greenwald:

But Obama has not been blindsided; he has chosen policies that have emboldened ISIS and has rejected other options at every turn. In fact, his words in Turkey were patently false. Obama doesn’t need an introduction to those who would have done things differently; he knows them well. They include two of his secretaries of defense, his former under secretary of defense, his former secretary of state, his former head of the CIA, his former Army chief of staff, the last commanding general of forces in Iraq, his former ambassador to Syria, his former deputy national-security adviser, and, yes, even his former joint chiefs chairman—among others.

The Nation He Built,” by Michael Grunewald

Hating the West, Inc.” by Victor Davis Hanson

Iran’s Ballistic Missiles Are Actually a Huge Problem,” by Emily Landau, Shimon Stein

On His Watch,” by Abe Greenwald



The President is Concerned About Mass Shootings, Regulates the Innocent, Releases the Guilty. by The Elephant's Child

You can understand just why President Obama is so angry with Republicans. They not only fail to appreciate all the great things he has done for the country, but insist on criticizing him for doing them. No wonder he is angry. Some even claim that he is trying to make America a socialist country.  Socialism is defined as any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods.

Liberals have realized that they don’t need to own the means of production and distribution of goods, they can just regulate it all, and so the president intends to advance “fundamental transformation”  by decree. The Wall Street Journal summed it up under the headline “Happy New Regulatory Year:”

Unofficially, Mr. Obama’s Administration has once again broken its own record by issuing a staggering 82,036 pages of new and proposed rules and instructions in the Federal Register in 2015. We say unofficially because Wayne Crews of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, who tracks these regulations, warns that the final number will likely come down by a few hundred pages when the official National Archives tally is released, without the blank pages that sometimes appear in daily publication.

He told us early on that he wanted to “fundamentally transform the United States of America” which is probably the only thing he has come close to accomplishing — in an accomplishment-free administration.  I shouldn’t say that. He is a champion at limiting economic freedom and the 94,446,000 working age Americans who have given up looking for work can attest to that.

Today he announced his executive orders on gun control, with a long list of mass shootings: Fort Hood, Binghamton, Aurora, Oak Creek, Newtown, the Navy Yard, Santa Barbara, Charleston, San Bernardino. Not any one of these mass shootings would have been prevented by any of President Obama’s executive orders. But then his climate control efforts, which resulted in an unenforceable agreement to limit CO2 emissions, would have no effect on the climate of the world at all — even over the next 100 years.

The gun control efforts would accomplish not much of anything at all, but are not a particularly big intrusion on gun rights either. So why? Obama is extremely dogmatic. Once he has an idea, it is set in stone, and he does not change his mind. It is of a piece with his orders on rules of engagement for military personnel which got so many of our troops killed, both at Fort Hood and in Afghanistan.

Obama also just commuted the sentences of 95 drug dealers convicted of non-violent possession with intent to distribute heroin, cocaine, crack, methamphetamine, and some 20 of them for illegally possessing firearms. I’m inclined to believe that selling illegal drugs is a violent crime.

California, the home of the San Bernardino killing, has the most restrictive gun laws in the country. Chicago, also a city with very restrictive gun laws has a record number of gang shootings. Australia has seen a spike in gun crime in spite of an outright ban on guns. Paris has extremely strict gun laws, and has had two dreadful examples.

In the United States, we have had a 50 percent drop over the past two decades as a direct result of good policing, and of putting more of the bad guys in prison. The “Ferguson Effect,” blaming the police in spite of grand jury investigations, has meant a drop-off in policing. Recruitment for the police academies has declined, and more cops are quitting the service. They don’t need to risk their lives every day to protect the people, and be unfairly accused of racism, or of murder when defending themselves. They are more reluctant to patrol dangerous neighborhoods, and there is an uptick of 11% in homicides in 25 of our 30 largest cities. In spite of the uptick (which is significant) today’s murder rates are still at all-time historic lows.

It is the policing revolution of the 1990s that succeeded in calming urban violence. President Obama has rejected angrily any suggestion of a “Ferguson Effect.”

“He accused FBI director Comey of ‘cherry-picking data’ and ignoring ‘the facts’ on crime in pursuit of a ‘political agenda,’ noted Heather MacDonald. The idea that the president knows more about local crime and policing than the nation’s top law-enforcement official is absurd. Yet after DEA chief Rosenberg threw his weight behind the Ferguson effect, the White House lashed out again, petulantly claiming that he had no evidence.”

Do read Heather MacDonald’s article “In Denial About Crime” linked here, and above. She is truly an expert, and current trends are worrying.

The president has had conflicting ideas about how to help the black community. On the one hand he has emphasized children’s need for fathers, which is a great good. On the other hand he has unfortunately suggested that police officers are racist. With his commutation of sentences, largely of drug dealers, he has suggested that it is somehow unfair for so many black men to be in prison. What is unfair is for so many black men to be dealing drugs. Here is the list of the most recent list of 95 prisoners whose sentences he commuted. He commuted another 45 earlier in the year. Reportedly 6,000 prisoners are to be released in his final term.

Much of this is ideological prejudice expressed in the Fox Butterfield Fallacy of misidentifying as a paradox, that which is a simple cause-and-effect relationship. New York Times reporter Fox Butterfield remarked on the drop in crime, led by a drop in murder, and asked why is the number of inmates in prisons and jails still going up? The typical New York Times reporter disapproved of sending people to prison because they think it is racially discriminatory. It is a common belief on the Left.

Mr. Obama remains angry with Republicans, angry with Congress, and determined to get his way by ignoring the Constitution, and accomplishing what he can by executive orders, and de facto rules as “notices” or “guidance” that are ignored by businesses at their peril. The Supreme Court has encouraged this abuse by affirming that federal agencies have wide latitude to issue “interpretations” of federal laws and even to change those interpretations without going through the formal exercise of rule-making. Clearly, Congress needs to restrain their habit of passing rule-making on to federal agencies.

The federal government does not understand the effect on business of their busy-rule making nor of the effect on the American economy.

This year administration plans to issue new or final rules restricting legal arbitration, mandating overtime  pay for millions of workers, punishing payday lenders, further regulating financial advisers, limiting methane emissions from oil and gas drilling and further reducing silica dust exposure in the workplace.

It will accomplish little, damage our damaged economy further, and impose more costs on every American. Some accomplishment!




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