American Elephants


A Strong Rebuke to the President of the United States by The Elephant's Child

Gerecht-Home-Main

On Tuesday the Supreme Court issued a stay that blocked the federal government from implementing a series of far-reaching environmental regulations that essentially crippled the entire coal industry. The rules were issued by the Environmental Protection Agency as part of President Obama’s attempt to force America’s energy sector to reduce their carbon emissions to conform to the administration’s demands.

Once again acting on his “presidential authority,” the president was making laws that would close hundreds of coal-fired power plants, because the president believes that CO2 is a pollutant (it is not) and that CO2 is the cause of global warming (it is not). Mr. Obama was trying to set an example for other countries to do the same, to comply with the unenforceable agreement that came out of the Paris Climate Talks—COP21.

Because of a 5-4 majority on the court, nothing will be done to implement those changes until an appeals court can formally rule on a challenge brought by 27 states, and corporate and industry groups against the EPA. What the Supreme Court has done is to restore some sense of accountability to an agency that has attempted to become a legislative body without any authority to do so.

The appellate courts will now have to give the 27 states the opportunity to make their case. The Supreme Court is not just saving the jobs of coal miners and the economy in several states, but calls attention to the rule of law at a time when the president of the United States has come to believe that he doesn’t have to bother with the consent of Congress. He just rewrites the law and dares the critics to stop him.

That stay will remain in effect through the end of Mr. Obama’s presidency, until the Supreme Court has a chance to hear the case—in 2017 at the earliest. The stay sends the strongest possible signal that the court is prepared to strike down the Clean Power Plan on the merits, assuming the next president doesn’t revoke it.

Not since the court blocked President Harry Truman’s seizure of the steel industry has it so severely rebuked a president’s abuse of power. …

In a ruling two years ago the court held that the EPA couldn’t conjure up authority to make “decisions of vast economic and political significance” absent a clear statement from Congress. Thus, the EPA may have the authority to require power plants to operate more efficiently and to install reasonable emissions-reduction technologies. But nothing authorizes the agency to pick winners (solar, wind) and losers (coal) and order generation to be shifted from one to the other, disrupting billion-dollar industries in the process.

The EPA has been rebuked by the courts repeatedly. In January the House joined the Senate in trying to stop another of Obama’s “power grabs” — the EPA’s attempt to seize control of virtually all waterways across the country. The federal government has used the EPA as its proxy and the Clean Water Act to enact its ideas about controlling privately owned land through the regulation of waterways. This year they extended, without congressional input, their authority through the 1972  Clean Water Act.

The Obama administration excused this attempted appropriation as nothing more than an effort to save the nation’s streams, headwaters, creeks and wetlands from “pollution and degradation.” In reality, the EPA simply wanted to expand its command over such near-waterless features as dry creeks, potholes and puddles . Under this regime, private individuals or businesses would need government permission to do anything on their property that is even remotely related to water — such as digging a drainage ditch — giving Washington sweeping powers over private lands.

A federal judge told the EPA last August that they had gone too far, but they just shrugged and said they would enforce the rule in the 37 states that were not part of the lawsuit. “Administrative Law” is one of those innocuous phrases in which the Left excels, like the substitution of  “extremist” for “terrorist.” But you must pay attention to the real meaning — which is the substitution of agency regulation and presidential orders or directions or memos  for the lawful actions of Congress. As Jonathan Turley, professor of Law at George Washington University said:

“What the president is doing is not one of the dangers
the Framers were concerned about; it is the danger
the Framers were concerned about.”



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

climate-pledge-park-area

—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




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