American Elephants


President Obama is Writing Privately to the Ayatollah Ali Khamenei by The Elephant's Child

Iranian_Supreme_Leader_Ayatollah_Ali_Khamenei

The news today is full of reports about the presidential correspondence with Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The October letter was Obama’s fourth time to write Iran’s most powerful political and religious leader since 2009. The correspondence clearly indicates the importance with which Mr. Obama views America’s relations with Iran. The Wall Street Journal wrote:

The letter appeared aimed both at buttressing the campaign against Islamic State and nudging Iran’s religious leader closer to a nuclear deal.

Mr. Obama stressed to Mr. Khamenei that any cooperation on Islamic State was largely contingent on Iran reaching a comprehensive agreement with global powers on the future of Tehran’s nuclear program by a Nov. 24 diplomatic deadline, the same people say. …

The combination of stiff sanctions and the surprising drop in the price of oil combined with the rise of Sunni Islamic State militants had moved the relationship into an effective state of détente. That shift could presage more problems in the balance of power in the region and alienate key U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates who are central to the coalition fighting the Islamic State. Iran remains the world’s leading sponsor of terror and abuses of its own people.

Iran has watched while the U.S. heckles Israel about its conduct in the war in Gaza, allows Bashar al-Assad to continue his mass murder, refused to consider more sanctions, countenanced insulting remarks about the elected representative of the Jewish people, and watched the administration’s response to Russia, to China, and continuing refusal to consider “boots on the ground in Iraq” as evidence of the character of the Obama administration. It seems clear that the world has taken the measure of the Obama administration and believes the United States to be weak and indecisive.

The administration, on the other hand, seems to regard the current state of affairs as a potential opening to a diplomatic deal on their nuclear ambitions.

One wonders which part of “DEATH TO AMERICA!” and “Death to the Great Satan” and “Death to the Little Satan” is it that Mr. Obama doesn’t understand?

Mr. Obama and his team have assumed the chances for a deal with Iran at only 50-50. Secretary of State John Kerry will meet with his Iranian counterpart on Sunday in the Persian Gulf country of Oman. Unfortunately, they considered the diplomatic negotiations with Iran so sensitive that they didn’t tell its Middle East allies, including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE about Mr. Obama’s October letter. Leaders from those countries have expressed growing concern that softening demands from the U.S. to try to reach “a deal” with Iran will allow Iran to gain the capacity to produce nuclear weapons.

The deadline for a nuclear deal is November 24. Iran is adopting a hardline negotiating position. So what harm can a letter from the American president do?

Actually, a lot. The Journal quotes a senior White House official who provides context for Obama’s outreach: “We’ve passed on messages to the Iranians . . . saying our objective is against ISIL. We’re not using this as a platform to reoccupy Iraq or to undermine Iran.”

Saying this to Iran is the diplomatic equivalent of telling an ill-reputed used-car salesman, “Money is no object, I don’t need a test drive, and I’m desperate to buy today.” It’s not very clever.

Iran’s hardliners are likely to see the president’s latest letter as a verification of increasing American malleability. But there’s a deeper issue here. As I noted in September, the administration’s willingness to see the best in Iran without challenging the worst manages to inspire only the latter. While we offer friendship, from Beirut to Baghdad, from Sanaa to Washington, Iran forges power through violent opportunism.

Other headlines don’t offer much confidence: “Pentagon: Iran Giving ‘Lethal Aid to the Taliban to Fight U.S.and Report: Iran Nuclear Program More Advanced that Previously Believed. or from the Weekly Standard: The Most Dangerous Man in the World.”

What can possibly go wrong?

 



Your Taxes Are Going Up, And That’s Only The Beginning. by The Elephant's Child

I wish you a Happy New Year in spite of an upcoming year that is not promising.

We dropped over the fiscal cliff at Midnight, and then the Senate passed their 157 page fiscal cliff bill which everybody passed without reading it. Didn’t anyone learn a lesson about passing unread bills? Obama is triumphal because he accomplished his two main goals. He stuck it to the Republicans and can now call it ‘a tax cut’ that he delivered to the middle class (Don’t fall for that pathetic meme), and he forced Republicans to forgo their insistence on not raising taxes.

Republicans want to keep taxes low for everyone, because low taxes will help the economy to grow. New layoffs have been coming at a furious rate as more small businesses let workers go, or shift more of their workforce to part-time to avoid the massive fines imposed by ObamaCare on those companies who have more than 50 workers. People and businesses respond to incentives. The rich will rearrange their finances, or move to a location more friendly to capital. Businesses will invest in more labor-saving devices — more telephone trees, robotic voices, more automated check-out stands, more factory innovations that save the cost of labor and it’s benefits. And although taxes will go up, the revenue will not yield as much as expected.

Republicans recognize government jobs as just another expense that will require increased taxes from the public, and yes, the middle class. They believe in smaller, less complicated government that regards its tasks as those enumerated in the Constitution, rather than one that feels it’s role is regulating our showers, our lightbulbs, our appliances. (Did you know there are new regulations for dishwashers that reduce energy and reduce the amount of water used from 6.5 gallons down to 5 gallons. This will, of course dramatically raise the cost of a dishwasher, and you will not have it long enough to realize any savings in either water or electricity).

Republicans don’t believe that it is the government’s task to control health care, nor to tell the healthcare industry just what care they may give to a patient. Republicans believe a lot of stuff that is very hard to explain in short slogans or clever bumper stickers. They think deeply about their philosophy, the meaning of the Constitution, and the maintenance of liberty.

Democrats believe in the maintenance of power. Theirs. They want to win.

Their fondest desire is to end the Republican party and all its influences. Including the U.S. Constitution, singularly restrictive on what powers are granted to the government by the American people. Democrats don’t like those restrictions that Republicans are always nattering about.

Obama has not the slightest intention of cutting back on spending in any way. He doesn’t see any reason for doing so. Economist Alan Reynolds remarked that “Barack Obama does not understand economics and refuses to listen to anyone who does.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office puts it this way:

“With the population aging and health care costs per person likely to keep growing faster than the economy (gross domestic product), the United States cannot sustain the federal spending programs that are now in place with the federal taxes (as a share of GDP) that it has been accustomed to paying.” $1 in spending cuts ($15 billion) for every $41 billion in tax increases ($620 billion).

The compliant (suck-up) media has accepted the Obama narrative that it it’s only Republican rigidity that makes negotiations so difficult and leads to deadlock, because Republicans want to protect the rich. This means that there is even less incentive for Obama and Congressional Democrats to engage in genuine bargaining. But the media has not performed their job as government watchdog for many years.

We are not getting a genuine debate that we deserve. The president is lying about having cut a trillion dollars from the budget. He increased it by a trillion. The President is playing ugly Chicago politics in the national arena. And Chicago, the murder capital of the country, is the nation’s most dysfunctional city. Obama’s already overbearing arrogance will swell even more. No leadership. No understanding.

You can’t have Big Government and low taxes. Doesn’t work. The president will have to come after the middle class, because that’s where the money is. The payroll tax returns. They’re already talking about your 401-ks as a source of revenue. More to come.



The Left’s Distaste for Democracy. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama, we are told, has little respect for the Constitutional separation of powers. Recently, he has announced in several statements, that he intended to govern without Congress. He would go around the legislative branch, and accomplish what he wanted by executive order and agency regulation.

On his return from Hawaii, Mr. Obama has concluded that he has the legal authority to make a recess appointment  of Richard Cordray to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau without Senate approval.

Senate Republicans say they will not confirm anyone to the post until substantial changes are made to the bureau’s structure. Last month the Senate voted 53-45 to take up the Corday nomination, falling short of the 60 votes needed.  The White House has decided to make the recess appointment even though there is no recess.  They have decided that no one can stop them. The new bureau, as structured, has no limits to its authority, and leaves the bureau open to intrude in consumer’s finances in ways far too intrusive. It is an unneeded addition to the federal bureaucracy.

The Left has a general distaste for democracy. Peter Orsag, Obama’s former OMB head, writing for the New Republic, suggested that Americans need to transfer much of the operation of government out of the hands of Congress, and into the hands of unelected and brighter bureaucrats. He proposed creating automatic boards of unelected administrators and “trigger” mechanisms that automatically set policy unless Congress specifically proposes an alternative.

North Carolina’s governor Bev Perdue raised eyebrows back in September when she suggested simply suspending elections for a few terms so congressmen would not have to worry about angering their constituents.

The Justice Department has ordered a halt to South Carolina’s new photo ID  law.  On Dec. 23, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez sent a letter ordering South Carolina to stop enforcing its photo ID law, with the claim that South Carolina’s law would disenfranchise thousands of minority voters. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson rejected Mr. Perez’s math.  The state Election Commission found 239,000 people registered to vote with no photo ID. The DMV found that 37,000 were deceased, over 90,000 had moved away, and others had names not matched to ID. That left 27,000 people registered without an ID but who could vote by signing an affidavit as to their identity.

Leading Democrats have been attempting to portray photo ID as the second coming of Jim Crow, but all states provide photo IDs for free if they cannot afford one. The U.S. Constitution empowers the states to enact voting procedures without input from the national government, such as setting the voting age and election days for federal offices.  The 15th and 19th amendments ensure that no one is denied the right to vote based on race or sex.

The 1965 Voting Rights Act authorizes the U.S attorney general  to review changes to voting procedures or redistricting. A 2005 bipartisan Commission of Federal Election Reform found no evidence that requiring photo ID would suppress the minority vote, and recommended a national photo ID system and a campaign to register voters.

A U.S. District Court judge has rejected a challenge to the Voting Rights Act filed when the Dept. of Justice barred the city of Kinston, NC from holding nonpartisan elections — reasoning that lack of access to party affiliation would discriminate against minority voters who otherwise wouldn’t know how to find Democrat candidates on a ballot.

In New Haven, CT, Mayor John DeStefano seeks to extend voting rights to illegal immigrants. He contends that the rights to vote guaranteed by the Constitution are limited to federal elections.  The question is if the mayor has the authority to extend the right to vote. The mayor has also barred police from asking community residents who had not been arrested to prove their legal status.

The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services are pressuring rank-and-file officers to rubber-stamp immigrants’ visa application, sometimes against the officers’ will. A report drafted by the Office of the Inspector General details the pressure immigration officers are under to approve visa applications quickly, overlooking concern about fraud, eligibility or security. The report found that 14% of respondents had serious concern that employees who focused on fraud or ineligibility were evaluated unfairly.

Democrats want to make sure that everybody and all their dead relatives gets to vote. People are careless about their voting rights, they move and do not cancel their registration, they die and no one tells the election authorities, ACORN has been convicted of voter fraud in many states, has been denied funding by Congress, and is still being funded by the Obama administration under different names. We have experience of fraudulent elections here in Washington State, and it really makes you angry when your vote is cancelled by someone registered as Mickey Mouse.

ADDENDUM: I’m told I’m not clear about voting rights. Determining voting rights is a state matter, except—The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlaws discriminatory practices that had been responsible for disenfranchisement of African Americans in the U.S.  The act prohibits states from imposing any voting qualification or prerequisite to voting to deny or abridge the right to vote on account of race or color. It was specifically designed to outlaw literacy tests in order to register to vote, but as amended in 1982  prohibits any voting practice or procedure that has a discriminatory result. The DOJ is authorized to “preclear” any attempt to change any voting requirement in states that had less than 50% of the voting age voting in 1960 and/or 1964. It’s all very complicated, but there is no federal constitutional right to vote for electors for the President of the United States.




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